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Chronologies on the Romanian Revolution of 1989


"The series of revolutions of 1989 fundamentally changed the political, economic, axiological and cultural map of the world. Triggered by a deep and widespread dissatisfaction with the ideological domination of Leninism, it allowed the rediscovery of democratic participation and civic engagement," political scientist Vladimir Tismaneanu wrote in his book "About 1989. The sinking of utopia" (Humanitas Publishing House, Bucharest, 2009). "The nature of the Romanian Revolution, including the use of violence and massacre, can be explained through the unrepentant Stalinist nature of the communist dictatorship. Through its radicalism and unlashed energies and the chance of revigorating political parties, market economic, free media and civil society, the Revolution represented an indisputable historical turn," Vladimir Tismaneanu emphasized in the above-mentioned work.

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In 1989, Romania was the only former communist country in which the transition from totalitarianism to democracy was made through violence and the leaders of the old regime were executed. Between December 16 and 20, 1989, the so-called "Timisoara Revolution" took place, while December 21 is considered to be the first day of the Revolution in Bucharest. Protesters gathered near the Intercontinental Hotel in University Square downtown Bucharest and built a barricade in front of the intervention forces.

On December 20/21, 1989, the Municipal Committee of the Romanian Communist Party (PCR) decided to organize, in the Republic Square (Palace Square), in front of the headquarters of the Central Committee of the PCR, a large "popular rally" condemning the "hooligan actions" from Timisoara. At the party meeting, Nicolae Ceausescu proposed an increase in salaries and social aids, according to the volume "Romania. Data and facts. 20 (1989-2009).

Around 12.00, the big rally started in the Republic Square. An impressive number of banners with slogans condemning the protest rallies in Timisoara were handed out to the participants and solidarity was expressed with the party and state leadership, led by Nicolae Ceausescu.

The rally was broadcast live on radio and television, while from the balcony of the Central Committee of the PCR Ceausescu began a speech on the achievements of the "multilaterally developed socialist society" and on the benefits of the communist regime. The speech was soon interrupted by boos and whistles of the spontaneously formed groups of protesters. Panic ensued, and most of the protesters dispersed in the market.

At the same time, Elena Ceausescu made desperate attempts to reassure the participants. Panic spread fast and Nicolae Ceausescu left the balcony from which he spoke, and the radio and television transmission was interrupted. After a few moments, Nicolae Ceausescu reappeared on the balcony of the Central Committee and resumed his speech. Television and radio broadcasts were also resumed. In an act of desperation, Ceausescu promised "measures to increase the standard of living," including increasing the minimum salary by 200 lei per month and the child allowance by 30 and 50 lei in relation to the number of children and income.

For the first time in 24 years since he led the party, Ceausescu was booed during a speech.

The crowd that was gathered in the square dispersed taking up the surrounding streets and thousands of people protested for democracy and against dictatorship. The slogans that could be heard were: "Democracy!," "Freedom!," "Yesterday in Timisoara, today all over the country!," "Down with Ceausescu!." At 2.00 pm, downtown, the first armoured vehicles and the self-propelled amphibious vehicles appeared.

During the evening, the protesters, mostly young people, gathered near the Intercontinental Hotel in the University Square, where they built a barricade in front of the intervention forces. Law enforcement was ordered to "clean up the area." During the night, protesters from "Intercontinental" and the University Square were shot dead or wounded. Numerous protesters were also arrested and taken to Jilava Prison, near Bucharest.

Tens of thousands of people gathered in front of the PCR County Committee in Brasov, while several thousand protesters took to the streets in Sibiu, where Nicu Ceausescu, Nicolae Ceausescu's son, was the first secretary of the party's county organization.

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In the early hours of December 22, 1989, the big factories in Bucharest ceased their activity. Massive groups of workers from Grivita Rosie, Vulcan, 23 August, Pipera, Republica, the Bucharest Machine Tools and Assembly Unit Enterprise were heading downtown.

Nicolae Ceausescu announced the suicide of General Vasile Milea, calling him a traitor and accusing him of "sabotaging the application of measures and working closely with foreigners." At 10.59 am, the radio station announced the establishment, through a presidential decree, of the "state of necessity" on the entire Romanian territory.

Thousands of citizens were heading downtown. This was the moment when the mechanized troops from Bucharest left their positions on the streets near the headquarters of the Central Committee and headed towards their military units. Left without a commander, the army accepted the first withdrawal signal given by General Victor Atanasie Stanculescu, the first deputy minister of defence.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters chanted "The army is with us!" and entered the Republica Square. Some of the protesters forced their way in and entered the headquarters of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. At 12.06 pm, Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu, accompanied by Manea Manescu, Emil Bobu, General Marin Neagoe and two bodyguards left the building of the Central Committee, aboard a helicopter. At around 3.00 pm, they were arrested near the town of Targoviste, 80 km north of Bucharest, according to the volume "Romania 1989-2005. A chronological history."

Around 1.00 pm, the headquarters of the Romanian Radio and Television were occupied by protestors, the radio station broadcasting the events live. The television began its show with achronologies and specialized studies on the Romanian Revolution of 1989 group of protesters on the set, led by actor Ion Caramitru and poet Mircea Dinescu.

Between 2.15 and 4.00 pm, army units were sent to provide security for important objectives in the Capital City: Romanian Television, Casa Scanteii, Central Committee headquarters, National Bank of Romania, the Radio Station, the Telephone Palace, other institutions and units of strategic interest. According to the orders received, the armoured vehicles flew the tricolor flag, and the military wore tricolor armbands.

During the evening, the Provisional Council of the National Salvation Front was established, which took over the entire power in the state, with the aim of "establishing democracy, freedom and dignity of the Romanian people." It had a temporary structure consisting of 39 people, including Ana Blandiana, Doina Cornea, Dumitru Mazilu, Mircea Dinescu, Laszlo Tokes, Dan Desliu, Petre Roman, Ion Caramitru, Sergiu Nicolaescu, Dan Martian, Cazimir Ionescu, Domokos Geza and Ion Iliescu. The Provisional Council of the National Salvation Front addressed, in the evening, a "press release to the country," announcing the dissolution of all power structures of the communist regime and a programme aimed at democratizing political and social life in Romania: abandoning the leading role in the hands of a single political party and establishing political pluralism; organizing free elections; separation of state powers; drafting a new Constitution; promoting free initiative in the economy; full respect for human rights and freedoms, etc.

During the night of December 22-23, shootings began in several places in Bucharest, registering casualties among the army and the population. The National Television headquarters was attacked and the broadcast interrupted for a short time.

In the crossed gunfire in the Republica Square, as there were people shooting from the building of the former Royal Palace, which housed the Art Museum, targeting the CC building of the PCR and the crowd in the square, the building of the Central University Library caught fire.

The Ceausescus, detained by the militia, were transferred from the headquarters of the Militia Inspectorate to the Military Unit 01417 in Targoviste.


Revolutionary actions take place in the main urban centers of the country, consisting mainly of the takeover by the groups of revolutionaries, constituted ad-hoc, of the power at local level; they were joined by military units from all over the country.

The Council of the National Salvation Front (CFSN) appointed General Nicolae Militaru as Minister of National Defense.

According to the volume "History of Romania in data" - Encyclopedic Publishing House, 2003, Ion Iliescu presented to the radio and television stations a piece of information from the CFSN, which shows that priority was given to "coordinated actions of fighting against the terrorists, which resulted in victims in the lines of the military," adding that "all military units and the vast majority of militia and internal units are acting unitarily against terrorists." He also announces the arrest of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu, Ilie and Nicu Ceausescu, Dinca, Postelnicu, Bobu and others, and the release of all political detainees.

On December 24, 1989, the CFSN adopted exceptional measures: complete ceasefire throughout the country; handing over the weapons in the possession of civilians to the military units; integration of the units of the Ministry of Interior in the structure of the Ministry of National Defense.

The capital looked like a city under military siege: gunshots are still heard, tanks patrol the streets; road blocks are formed at intersections and near civilian targets, and civilians and military control vehicles.

Being Christmas Eve, radio and television stations broadcast, for the first time in more than four decades, carols and religious songs.

On Christmas Day, on December 25, 1989, the National Romanian Television - TVR announced that Elena and Nicolae Ceausescu had been tried by an Extraordinary Military Tribunal.

In Targoviste, inside a military unit, there was the trial filed by the Romanian state against Nicolae Ceausescu, President of Romania (1974-1989), and Elena Ceausescu for the crimes of genocide, undermining state power, undermining the national economy, the crime of destruction of public goods through the destruction and damage of some buildings, explosions in cities, etc., the attempt to flee the country on the basis of funds of over one billion dollars deposited with foreign banks. Following the sentence, the two are executed by shooting in the afternoon of the same day.

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On December 26, 1989, Petre Roman was appointed Prime Minister of the Romanian Government by decree of the CFSN.

Laws, decrees, acts and norms of the old regime were repealed. Extraordinary Military Tribunals were established to judge, in an emergency procedure, cases of terrorism, and sentences were to be executed immediately. A deadline is granted, respectively December 28, at 17.00 - for the deposit of weapons.

The CFSN Decree on the transition to the Ministry of National Defense of the Department of State Security and other bodies subordinated to the Ministry of Interior was adopted, as well as the Decree-Law repealing all decrees granting titles and orders of Romania to Nicolae Ceausescu and Elena Ceausescu.

Until the end of 1989, a series of political-administrative actions of the new power took place. Thus, on December 27, 1989, the Executive Bureau of the CFSN was elected, composed of: Ion Iliescu - president, Dumitru Mazilu - first vice-president, vice-presidents - Cazimir lonescu, Kiraly Karoly; secretary - Dan Martian; members: Bogdan Teodoriu, Vasile Neacsa, Silviu Brucan, Gheorghe Manole, Ion Caramitru, Nicolae Radu.

On December 28, 1989, firearm shootings ceased following the exceptional measures taken by the CFSN, and Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu are secretly buried at the Ghencea Civil Cemetery in Bucharest.

On December 31, 1989, the president of CFSN, Ion Iliescu, on the occasion of his New Year's speech, announced: abolition of the death penalty, cessation of food exports, imports of consumer goods, cessation of costly investment works (Danube-Bucharest Canal, Danube-Jiu-Arges hydrotechnical system, free zone in Constanta port, Anina thermal power plant, People's House etc); granting plots of land for personal use of up to 5,000 sqm to cooperating members; the declaration of the land afferent to the dwelling house, to the household annexes and to the surrounding court in the co-operative areas private property of the owners, with the right of alienation etc.