The revolution in Romania ended on December 25.

The fall of communism in this state was the bloodiest among the countries of the socialist camp.

About a thousand people died and more than 3,000 were seriously injured.

We tell you how it happened.

How did Romania become communist?

The Stalinization of the country began in 1944, when Soviet troops entered Romania.

Three years later, this led to the resignation of King Michael I, the coming to power of the Communists and the creation of the Romanian People's Republic.

From 1948 to 1965, the country was ruled by Gheorghe Georgiev-Dej, who managed to persuade the Soviet Union to withdraw its troops from Romania and retain autonomy from Moscow.

But Romania remained a communist and authoritarian state.

King Michael I in London.

The first speech after the forcible abdication of the throne

Where did Ceausescu come from?

He was a favorite of Georgiev Deja and came to power in 1965, after the death of the latter.

Ceausescu continued the line of his predecessor and demonstrated independence from Moscow.

In 1968, he condemned not only the Soviet army's entry into Czechoslovakia, but also his predecessor.

Ceausescu rehabilitated victims of Stalinism and gained the support of the population.

Ceausescu and former North Korean leader Kim Il Sung

However, the dictator has turned Romania into one of the most isolated countries in the world.

People were forbidden to have radios, typewriters.

The Securitate secret service, an analogue of the KGB, fought against every manifestation of dissent.

Abortion and contraception have been banned in the country.

Every Romanian woman was obliged to give birth to at least 5 children by the age of 45.

Many families were unable to feed themselves and sent their children to shelters.

What set the Romanian state apart from other countries behind the Iron Curtain was the broad apparatus of informers and special services.

The Securitate, which employed more than 12,000 people, was a highly specialized but brutal service that fought against political opponents and used the most ruthless methods.

According to unofficial estimates, every tenth Romanian was a whistleblower and a spy for the party, which was a huge number with a population of 22 million.

Bucharest, 1986

What went wrong?

In the late 1970s, living standards began to fall in Romania.

Ceausescu lost support.

The government's struggle with the crisis has often taken absurd forms.

If there was a lack of fuel, they tried to solve the problem by restricting public transport, and people were allowed to use cars according to their numbers: one day even, the next - odd.

In 1987, the Danube-Black Sea canal was dug in Romania, which made no economic sense.

This investment, according to economists, will pay off in half a thousand years.

The situation was complicated by the fact that the dictator ordered to repay all foreign loans of the country.

In Romania, a mania for austerity began, which also did not satisfy people.

Protests took place from time to time, but until December 1989 they were not serious.

Why the revolution began

Detention of Laszlo Tekes (right)

The impetus for the fall of the Ceausescu regime was a small conflict in the multiethnic city of Timisoara in Transylvania.

They wanted to transfer the local Protestant pastor Laszlo Tekes to another parish for criticizing the authorities.

Locals opposed it.

Chaotic fights with police escalated into regular street fights.

Romanian security forces killed more than 50 people during the crackdown.

The protests began in the capital Bucharest and other cities.

Which was a turning point

On December 21, a "spontaneous rally" in support of the authorities with the participation of "workers of the capital" took place in the center of Bucharest.

According to the regime's plan, it was to be a demonstration of the unity of the people.

In his speech, Ceausescu denounced "foreign agents" and shouted punishment for "traitors."

But the crowd suddenly began chanting the name of the city of Timisoara, where bloody protests had just been suppressed.

Ceausescu tries to calm people down through a microphone, but fails.

He begins to promise an increase in salaries, pensions, child benefits.

But nothing works.

The crowd moved to the podium, where he performed.

The dictator and his wife flee to their homestead behind the rostrum, but a crowd bursts in.

The shooting begins.

People are building barricades in the streets.

The army is trying to break down the barricades, but on the morning of December 22, Defense Minister Vasily Mile refused to shoot at the protesters, after which, according to the official version, he committed suicide.

Protest in Timisoara, 1989

Murder at Christmas

Ceausescu appoints a new minister, Victor Stenculescu, the same man who led the crackdown on protests in Timisoara.

The dictator did not know that he was already in collusion with the former member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Romania Ion Iliescu, who was expelled from the party after the conflict with Ceausescu.

Stenculescu orders the soldiers to return to the barracks, and Ceausescu himself is persuaded to flee by helicopter, which he does.

While the dictator hides in his residence near Bucharest, his former ally Iliescu creates the National Salvation Front.

Ceausescu and his wife are arrested by police and handed over to the army.

They are taken to the barracks.

The trial takes place on December 25.

The dictator is accused of corruption, murder and other crimes.

The sentence - the death penalty for both - is carried out immediately after the announcement.

They are put against the wall.

Ceausescu starts singing "International", shots are heard.

Only 30 bullets.

Falling to the ground, the dictator manages to shout "Long live the free and democratic socialist republic of Romania!".

Ceausescu's speech, December 21, 1090, Bucharest

Video of the shooting is shown on state television.

What it was

The fall of the dictatorship in Romania in 1989 was the bloodiest transition from communism to democracy in Europe.

According to various estimates, between 600,000 and 1,200 people died on the streets of Bucharest and other Romanian cities.

About 3,000 were injured.


To this day, Romania is arguing about the beginning of the revolution.

Some believe that everything was planned by Ceausescu's political opponents to take power after him.

Others argue that the revolution broke out spontaneously, at the initiative of the people.

But regardless of how it began, the revolution was exploited by a group of party leaders and the military who ruled the country after 1989.

The problem was that there was no organized opposition force in Romania.

Bucharest, December 26

What happened after the revolution

After Ceausescu's death, Iliescu took over the presidency of Romania.

He ruled until 1996 and then again in 2000-2004.

In 2017, he and former Prime Minister Petre Roman were accused of dispersing anti-government miners' demonstrations in Bucharest in June 1990.

In 2019, he was charged with crimes against humanity during the December 1989 revolution, which killed 862 people.

There is no verdict yet, the trial has been postponed.

The real opposition came to power in Romania only in 1996.

However, despite all the difficulties of transformation, today Romania is a democracy, a member of NATO and the European Union.

  • Dmitry Gurnevich

    Radio Liberty journalist

    hurnievicd@rferl.org

    FACEBOOKWITTERSubscribe

Keywords: