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Police Files Reveal Romania’s Past

June 18, 1998

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) _ It’s been nine years since Stalinist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was executed. But Romanians are still haunted by 125 million pages of files assembled by his feared Securitate secret police.

The mountains of pages lie under lock and key, care of the Securitate’s successor, the Romanian Information Service. Safe, that is, until the occasional leak which ruins a career or destroys a reputation.

That’s apparently what happened this week, when three politicians from ruling parties _ including a government minister _ were exposed as Securitate collaborators.

The revelations jolted a reformist government that came to power 18 months ago vowing to bring a new, moral attitude to a country demoralized by Ceausescu’s authoritarian rule. Government leaders tried to enact a law making anyone in a position of responsibility declare any past allegiance to the Securitate, but parliament has not voted on it yet. They never dreamed the reforms would hit so close to home.

Romanians are still obsessed by the secret police _ who reportedly had a quarter of the adult population working for it under Ceausescu.

``Someone in the shadows wants to show people from the ruling parties that they are not as moral and clean as they pretend to be,″ Cornel Nistorescu, the director of the Evenimentul Zilei daily, wrote Thursday of the leaks.

Prime Minister Radu Vasile on Wednesday asked for the resignation of Health Minister Francisc Baranyi after he admitted having been a ``Securist.″

Baranyi confessed he signed a Securitate ``commitment″ in 1961 ``under the threat of a weapon,″ but said he had never harmed anyone.

Vasile Lupu, the deputy leader of the profoundly anti-Securitate National Peasant Party, also worked as an informer. Many party members were tortured or killed by the Securitate.

Democratic Party member Adrian Vilau, also exposed, was accused of covering up his past. He was banned from holding a parliamentary post controlling foreign intelligence, but said he never hurt anyone.

The hysterical finger-pointing in the heady days after Ceausescu’s demise has resurfaced with several unsubstantiated accusations as well.

Senators from the Liberal Party, a party in the ruling coalition, said Thursday they would leave a note with parliament Monday saying whether they had collaborated with the Securitate or not.

After communism ended in 1989, Romanians had a perverse pride in the efficiency of the Securitate, which controlled people’s lives, noting what someone ate, what time his wife went to work and who called him on the telephone.

Although many Romanians are unwilling to face up to the past, there is a feeling that everyone should have the right to know what was written about them.

``I think there should be total access for anyone to his personal file,″ said sociologist Alin Teodorescu. ``But you shouldn’t be able to use it in a court of law. Otherwise, we would have 4 million lawsuits.″

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