15 years ago this week there was a major upheaval in Bucharest. Following the ousting of Ceausescu in what amounted (despite public revolution) to an internal coup, Romania’s first democratic elections in May 1990 returned Iliescu (Ceausescu’s mate and the guy who used the revolution to gain power). Then in June there were major student led protests and riots in Bucharest against the new (in reality, old) government. Trainloads of miners led by a bloke called Miron Cozma arrived from Targu Jiu (Romania’s coal country) in support of Iliescu’s government, and broke up the protests (this is “broke up” in the fairly violent sense of that phrasal verb). The miners in this action have long been thought to have been infiltrated and under the control of Iliescu and the secret police.
In 91 the same group of miners actually brought down Prime Minister Petre Roman’s government, and then again in 99 they rioted again and this time Cozma was arrested and imprisoned for 18 years.
As I mentioned a few months ago, one of Iliescu’s last acts as president was to free Cozma, and then revoke the pardon a few days later. Well, now, on the 15th anniversary of the first “mineriada” the whole thing has blown up again. A few days ago, it was announced that Iliescu himself was to be indicted for his part in the affair, and now Cozma has been released again. (This time, as I understand it, it’s because it’s not possible to revoke a pardon once the pardoned has been released). I still haven’t worked out if Iliescu and Roman are going to be prosecuted for their acts in 1990, but they’ll probably wriggle out of it somehow. Cozma still refers to Iliescu as “Comrade Iliescu” and says he was acting under orders. It’s all very fascinating as Romania continues to go through the post-Ceausescu transition period and deals with the people who subverted the revolution.
I’m frankly struggling to follow all the ins and outs (has Iliescu really been indicted as was suggested last Friday? Will, as seems likely, Cozma be locked up again?), so if anyone more versed in post Ceausescu Romania than me (i.e. more or less everyone) would like to comment to help me grasp it, that would be great.
There is one other major post-revolutionary violent event to not be tackled, and that is the inter-ethnic clashes that broke out in Targu Mures earlier in 1990. Protests there (by ethnic Hungarian students demonstrating for a Hungarian language faculty in the university) were broken up by a nationalist Romanian group who brought in and armed peasants to attack the protesters. No-one (to my knowledge) has yet been brought to justice over that act.
[Later edit: Ah, here's a readable English language summation of the story. (Make's a fair amount more sense than the rambling attempt above)]