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October 16, 2021

The Iliescu trial

Almost 3 decades since the crimes that culminated with the execution of the Ceausescus, the so-called dossier of the Revolution is nearing the indictment stage. The names are resounding, even though today they are no longer on the main political scene. Starting with Ion Iliescu, the most popular post-communist president with the highest number of terms – he won his elections with fabulous scores, far ahead of the scores of the other 3 presidents. Now he is an apparently recluse pensioner, whom the current head of the party (which he founded in 1990) only consults in exceptional situations at most.

One of these, recent, concerned the fresh appointments made at the CNSAS and the Revolution Institute. Cazimir Ionescu and Gelu Voican Voiculescu are two of Ion Iliescu’s close collaborators from the first six months of the new regime – the toughest period, which started with the dead of the Revolution and ended with those who died in the miners’ riots in June.

The two, alongside others, received important political offices over the years, and have now ended up in institutions that are apparently less connected with the actuality. In fact, the stake is very serious, because we are not talking solely about feathered nests offered at an old age to those loyal to the patriarch of post-communist “democracy.” Especially the CNSAS, which can deliver – there is a protocol in this sense – some compromising documents to the court that will try the Revolution dossier.

Will Cazimir Ionescu thus contribute to his own potential conviction? Hard to believe. The situation is explosive even more so since a potential conviction ruled against Ion Iliescu will decisively affect the future of the party that is today in power.

Far more than the arrest of its former party president Adrian Nastase did. Ion Iliescu is a symbol of an entire era. If the courts find him guilty for the murky events of December 1989, but also for those of June 1990, PSD’s legitimacy can only be strongly affected. No matter how hard his supporters will denounce a “political” trial, the sentences and the media coverage of the incriminated events will be a harder blow than any electoral propaganda. After all, all the attacks on the credibility of the judiciary, which started once the latest elections were won, seem only to prepare the great confrontation regarding the potential conviction of Ion Iliescu and his political comrades. Because it will no longer be about the flat anti-communist propaganda, for which PSD is a new form of the PCR – an attempt to speculate the Romanians’ resentment toward the former regime. If Ion Iliescu occultly coordinated actions of brutal repression against the political opposition, he did it not because he was a communist, but as a cynical person thirsty for power, willing to do anything to keep it.

But on trial alongside him are not only the few named in the prosecutors’ indictment. From a political standpoint, the entire regime is on trial, with people that have dominated all state institutions for 3 decades. They are all linked together by the original crime, the one in the Revolution. If it is proven in court too that it was all about criminal manoeuvres plotted not by the old Securitate but by the new holders of power, it will be clear for a wider audience that the legitimacy of those who made careers for themselves thanks to the PSD (under its various names) is stained with blood.

Inevitably, the connection between the corruption that is specific to this party – and that the other parties also inherited, to a great extent – and the brutality with which they consolidated power in the first six months will become clearer. First there was the terror, and then the economically leeching off the state.

From the start, Ion Iliescu offered rights and benefits to the former revolutionaries. Or especially to some, who sought wealth. The most noble of them did not even get revolutionary cards. Many others did not even face the bullets of the Securitate goons. Or were actually on the other side of the barricade. With people of this ilk, Ion Iliescu kept alive a memory of the Revolution favourable to him and to the group he had led. To cover up the suspicions that it was, in fact, only a coup d’état skilfully masked as a spontaneous popular revolt. A revolution skilfully led from the headquarters of the state-owned television. And for which a lot of people died absurdly at a time when Ceausescu was already a doomed fugitive.

In a country in which the former head of the Securitate recently died with almost an aura of national hero, in which plenty of victims of the former regime have been publicly sullied through the manipulation of the Securitate files, in which most of the torturers got away scot free, in which former officers have ended up around the new leaders of the PSD, in which plenty of dossiers are still classified, controlling the CNSAS is not a marginal issue. It is the assurance that Ion Iliescu will die peacefully in his bed and not in a chilly prison cell.


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