Romanian Revolution, road to freedom (1989-2009), chronology

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An apparently banal event, the eviction of the Timisoara pastor Laszlo Tokes, was to become the pretext for a revolt with unsuspected consequences for Nicolae Ceausescu’s regime. On the evening of December 15, 1989, several parishioners gather outside the pastor’s house and protest against his being evicted from the parish.

The next day the demonstration covers to the entire city and rapidly gets an anti-communist character. For the first time they shout “Down with Ceausescu!” Despite the reprisals of the authorities, who open fire on demonstrators and make massive arrests, the revolt grows in intensity. On December 20 Timisoara (western Romania) becomes the first communism free city in Romania.

Being sure that the repressive apparatus will suppress the protests of the Timisoara people, Nicolae Ceausescu leaves for Iran without suspecting that dictatorship was breathing its last. When coming back on December 20, 1989, he addresses the people on TV in connection with the events in Timisoara and says that they are the work of some “hooligans” and have nothing in common with the working class.

In order to condemn the revolt in the western region of Romania he convenes, for the next day, a meeting meant to voice the “support” of the population to the party and state leaders.

The rally is broadcast live on radio and TV. Standing in the balcony of the Central Committee of the Romanian Communist Party, Ceausescu starts delivering an enthusiastic speech about the achievements of the “multilaterally developed socialist society” and about the blessings of the communist regime. His speech is interrupted for the first time in 24 years by booing and hissing. The rally stopped for a few minutes.

When resuming it, being desperate, he promises “measures meant to increase the living standards,” some of which are the increase in the minimum pay by 200 lei a month and in the child allowance by 30 and 50 lei depending on the number of children and income. But the Revolution in Bucharest was breaking out under his very eyes and under the eyes of his acolytes.

Tuesday, December 26, 1989

– Petre Roman is appointed Prime Minister of the Government through a decree issued by the Council of the National Salvation Front.
– The Department of State Security and other bodies subordinated to the Ministry of the Interior switch to the Ministry of National Defence.

– They repeal laws, decrees, documents and regulations of the old regime. Here are some of them: all the decrees on awarding Romania’s titles and orders to Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu, the law on setting up, organizing and functioning of the Council of Defence, the law on the systematization of the territory and of the urban and rural places, the decree regulating the termination of pregnancy, the decree on establishing the de jure situation of the Greek Catholic Church. They also repeal the regime of copiers and typewriters.

– In Bucharest and in several towns and cities there are still shots being fired.
– Extraordinary Military Courts are set up and empowered to try urgently cases of terrorism and the sentences should be carried out immediately. There is a deadline for arms being laid down. Wednesday, December 27, 1989

– They hold the first plenary meeting of the Council of the National Salvation Front. On this occasion they pass the law decree on setting up, organizing and functioning of the Council of the National Salvation Front (CFSN) and of its territorial councils. They elect the members of the CFSN executive bureau: Ion Iliescu, chairman, Dumitru Mazilu, first vice-chairman, Cazimir Ionescu and Karoly Kiraly, vice-chairmen.

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