Ceausescu’s Securitate. Romania’s dark secrets still able to cause upset 30 years after communism ended

Florina Claudia Priscaru collaborated with the Securitate, according to a Romanian court ruling.

Her alleged collaboration with the communist secret police, which she denies and has appealed, has made her a household name in Romania and cost her a top job at the economy ministry.

The infamous secret police was said to keep tabs on millions of Romanians under Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu with an army of spies. Thirty years later, it has left a legacy of mistrust, trauma even.

Romania hasn’t properly opened its files, let alone passed a lustration law, so nobody knows how many informers operated in almost every walk of life: in offices, on factory floors, among friends, in all-day queues for milk and bread, even in families.

 Estimates range from an improbable ‘one in four,’ to hundreds of thousands, which is likely much too high. The Securitate had eyes and ears everywhere, and the fear of that was enough to stifle most dissent.

The lack of  reckoning with its past means that many informers and former agents have gone on to have stellar careers in post-Communist Romania, unimpeded by their dirty secrets, which for the most part, have been whitewashed.

Former President Traian Basescu, central bank governor Mugur Isarescu and well-known journalist Ion Cristoiu have only recently been exposed as Securitate agents, 30 years after communism ended.

And now Florina Claudia Prisacaru.

Ms Prisacaru, was an 18-year-old student who also had a factory job when she was recruited by the secret police in the waning years of Ceausescu’s regime, the Bucharest Court of Appeal said.

She says she was merely trying to help a cousin who worked for the Securitate and many of the notes she wrote were dictated. At that young age, she didn’t know she was causing harm, she told the court. She doesn’t consider herself an informer.

She would have spent the rest of her career in blissful anonymity had it not been for the two years between 1987 to 1989.

However, when the economy minister selected her for an important post in the ministry, her past came up, and out. He initially defended his pick, saying the court ruling wasn’t final, before ditching her on Thursday.

It is unclear whether the case gained momentum as she’d reached a level where a higher level of vetting was required, or whether she was collateral damage from power struggles between the ruling Liberals and  Save Romanian Union, the junior partner in the governing coalition.

The memory of what the Securitate did has come flooding back, though, opening old wounds. In a talkshow on Europa FM, callers rang in with their stories of the repressive communist regime on Thursday lunchtime; at least one caller struggled to hold back tears.

The notes she wrote, whether they were dictated or not, arguably caused considerable harm.

One person was called out because they listened to Radio Free Europe; another person was snitched on as he or she intended to leave communist Romania; while a third had contact with a foreigner. Another belonged to an unspecified ‘religious cult,” according to files which were provided to the court.

For those activities, people could have been arrested, fired or been demoted.

She says some of the notes (the dictated ones) were about people who she’d never even met. She was merely trying to help a relative, she said, at an age when she didn’t realize she was violating people’s rights.

Ms Prisacaru appealed a court ruling naming her a collaborator, but lost the appeal.. The Court of Appeal ruling is not final and there will be a verdict in March 2022.

Before the court case, the National Council for the Publication of the Securitate Archives had published the verdict that she had been “a collaborator of the communist political police,” meaning the details she provided to the Securitate affected the rights and basic freedoms of the people she informed on.

After communism ended and the Securitate was disbanded, Ms Prisacaru worked at the finance ministry from 1993 until 1998, when she qualified in administrative affairs in the ministry. From 2018, she was deputy general secretary, a position she held until November 2019, when she headed an internal services and pubic acquisition department, Hotnews reported.

This week, Economy Minister Claudiu Nasui wrote to the Prime Minister Florin Citu saying he wanted her to take up the post of general director.

On Thursday, he said he’d changed his mind. „I no longer want to appoint her as general secretary” precisely because of her Securitate court case.

He insisted that neither he nor his family had had anything to do with the Securitate.


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