The Archive of the Romanian Revolution of December 1989

A Catch-22 December 1989, Groundhog-Day Production. Presenting the Personal Research & Scholarship of Richard Andrew Hall, Ph.D.

“The Securitate Counter-Revolution Will Be Televised”*: Documentary Maker Cornel Mihalache’s Long History of Promoting the Securitate Narrative on December 1989 (Ia: Content Analysis)

(purely personal views as always, based on decades of personal research and scholarship)

By now, I have seen and heard enough from and about Corneliu/Cornel Mihalache to call him the Videographer of the Securitate’s Counter-Revolution, a sort of more talented, sophisticated, camouflaged, and ultimately more dangerous version of Angela Bacescu on celluloid (for some background on Bacescu, see His numerous films on the overthrow of Nicolae Ceausescu in December 1989 have hundreds of thousands of views on Youtube, have reached millions through Romania’s state television broadcaster (TVR), and have been praised and awarded at home and abroad. Many have been taken in by his slick production skills and editing. This series of articles will focus mainly on examining the content and interview subjects of some of his films from the 1990s through last year’s 30th anniversary, which he marked by an, at last count, 18 episode series called “1989 — Red December” (1989 — Decembrie roşu), which was broadcast in prime time on TVR1. (For the details, documents, and arguments which refute Mihalache’s claims, please refer to the many posts and pages on my site, thank you.)

The episode (Ia) will examine two of themes in his films.

I. The Soviets Overthrew the Communist Regimes Everywhere in Eastern Europe in 1989…but Especially in Romania

In Episode 1 of “1989 – Decembrie roşu” (first broadcast December 2019), against the backdrop of sinister music and shots of the Kremlin and Soviet soldiers, between minute 43:50-44:00, the narrator tells us:

…Azi, stim ca in toate tarile foste comuniste din Europa de Est schimbarile au fost facute la dorinta lui Mihail Gorbaciov si cu interventia U.R.S.S…urma Romania.

“Today, we know that in all the former communist countries of Eastern Europe the changes [that took place in the fall of 1989] were done at the behest of Mikhail Gorbachev and with the intervention of the Soviet Union…Romania followed”

There is no serious scholar who believes this theory. No one has probably performed more archival research on the role of the Soviet Union in the events of the Fall of 1989 in Eastern Europe than Dr. Mark Kramer, who heads the Project on Cold War Studies at Harvard University. Kramer has written the seminal article on the topic and does not find support for this argument (see “The Demise of the Soviet Bloc,” PDF available online free of charge, here: )

Moreover, when it comes to Romania specifically, the case is undermined by the former Securitate themselves. Their handwritten or typed testimonies/declarations, while under arrest in 1990 and 1991, show very clearly that they could not find evidence of a Soviet hand behind the outbreak or evolution of the anti-regime protests in Timisoara:

Nor did the Securitate’s secret final report to Nicolae Ceausescu from likely 21 December 1989 make any mention of the so-called “Soviet tourists” in Timisoara, who would become so famous in the Securitate revisionism that was to develop after the events of December 1989: .

Not surprisingly, Mihalache’s fiercely loyal sidekick on the Decembrie Rosu series, Razvan Butaru, invokes Larry L. Watts’ claims on December 1989 in support of their contentions in the series. Kramer has already dealt with some of Watts’ other ridiculous allegations, for example, here: ) On December 1989, Watts takes Nicolae Ceausescu’s statements at face value and claims that Securitate who wrote in their testimonies while under arrest in early 1990 that they could find no Soviet role in Timisoara, did so only under duress. (I have previously responded to Watts’ absurd, poorly researched and argued contentions, for example, here: )

Corneliu Mihalache, who before moving on to TVR could be found as the post-Ceausescu era began, at the SAHIA Film studios, where he got his start, no doubt had interesting colleagues, who say strikingly similar things about December 1989. Grigore Corpacescu, was also a camera operator, at SAHIA. This is what he told Richard Bassett of The Times (London) in early March 1990:

Mr. [Grigore] Corpacescu has no doubt that the revolution here was carefully stage-managed–as was the case in Prague and East Berlin–by the Russians. “They were certainly critically involved both before and after,” he says…”The [Securitate] pilot of this helicopter is an old friend. I have many friends in the police, Timisoara was not started by the Hungarian pastor, the Reverend Laszlo Tokes”….According to Mr. Corpacescu a party of Soviet ‘tourists,’ all usually on individual visas, arrived in Timisoara two days before the first demonstration outside Mr. [i.e. Pastor] Tokes’ house.  Police records trace them reaching Bucharest on December 20.  By the 24th, two days after Ceausescu fled by helicopter, the Russians had disappeared.  No police records exist to indicate how they left the country. (“The Times (London),” 2 March 1990)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is top-221.jpg

We actually find out in the memoir of another SAHI(A)ot who was in charge of producing official films on Nicolae Ceausescu for a quarter century, that Mr. Corpacescu was one of those trusted by the Ceausescu regime to film the aftermath of the bloody repression in Timisoara in the week leading up to 22 December 1989–in other words, a highly trusted member of the Ceausescu regime…who would have had an interest in exonerating his past superiors.


Nu stiam ca Revolutia incepuse la Timisoara. Habar n-
aveam si de aceea credeam ca tot pentru Anul Nou o sa filmez. In
paranteza fie spus, colegul meu de la Sahia Grigore Corpacescu,
operator imagine, care executa filmarile in tara, a fost prins in
zilele acele la Timisoara. El a fost cel care a inregistrat pe
pelicula primele momente ale Revolutiei romane.
La mine, la
Sahia nu era agitatie. Pana si seful compartimentului plecase. Am sunat in TVR, la Ciurascu, care era redactor sef. El mi-a zis ca „ e
vorba de o inregistrare care trebuie sa se intample in aceasta
dupa-amiaza”. M-a intrebat unde sunt. I-am spus ca ma aflu la
Sahia si incerc sa-mi adun oamenii. Am stabilit de comun acord
ora cand sa ajungem amandoi in CC. Era bine sa ajungem
impreuna ca sa nu starnim divergente.

II. The Securitate Were NOT Responsible for the Bloodshed and Tremendous Loss of Life…Not Just After 22 December…But Also Before 22 December

Corneliu Mihalache:  Piepturi Goale, Buzunare Pline (TvR 2011) (“Bare Chests, Full Pockets”)

Minute 18:15 Director Corneliu Mihalache

Fullscreen capture 5142020 95256 AM

18:27 “[inainte de 22 decembrie 1989]…cea din urma, Securitatea a fost desteapta si vicleana, si a facut in decembrie un pas inapoi…A lasat Armata sa participe singura la represiunea de la Timisoara, Cluj, si Bucuresti.

18:27 “[before 22 December 1989]…the latter, the Securitate was clever and cunning, and in December took a step back…The Army was left to participate alone in the repression of Timisoara, Cluj, and Bucharest.”

18:45 “si atunci, dupa plecarea Comandantului Suprem pe calea aerului spre zidul de la Targoviste …[dupa 22 decembrie 1989] Partidul si Armata ca sa se salveze, s-a razbunat, si au incercat sa distruga Securitatea. In acest razboi au pierit peste o mie de oameni nevinovati.  Asta inseamna terorismul de stat.”

18:45 “and then, after the departure of the Supreme Commander by air towards the wall at Targoviste [where he would be executed three days later]…[after 22 December 1989] The Party and the Army, in order to save their own skins, took revenge, and began to destroy the Securitate. In this war a thousand innocent people lost their lives. That is state terrorism.”

Corneliu Mihalache: Televiziunea la Zidul Revolutiei (2014) (“Television against the Wall of the Revolution”)

from approximately minute 21

“Partidul Comunist si Armata hotarati sa sacrifice Securitatea…Securitatea nu raspunde la provocari, lasand armata fara inamic”

“The Communist Party and the Army decided to sacrifice the Securitate…the Securitate didn’t respond to the provocations, leaving the Army without an enemy.”

(to be continued)


* The title is of course a play on Gil Scott Heron’s masterpiece, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (1971),

and Andrei Codrescu’s invocation of the phrase in 1990/1991, when he turned it on its head and said that despite Gil Scott Heron’s prediction…in Romania…”The Revolution was televised.”

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