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Dark Memories In Romania

Romania's former president, Ion Iliescu, was attacked with eggs on December 22 during ceremonies marking the 19th anniversary of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu's fall.

Iliescu escaped unharmed after he was targeted by a 78-year-old protester in Bucharest, who held Iliescu responsible for the death of his two sons in the December 1989 fighting that followed Ceausescu's downfall.

The incident comes after Iliescu was attacked on December 21 with coins during an outdoor ceremony at the Heroes of the Revolution Cemetery in Bucharest.

Former revolutionaries threw the coins while chanting "Dead Men Walking" in an apparent reference to the hundreds of victims killed in the fighting which ensued after Ceausescu had fled Bucharest on December 22, 1989.

Critics have accused Iliescu, an ex-communist apparatchik, of hijacking the popular revolt that toppled Ceausescu and of covering up for decades the identity of the so-called terrorists who killed hundreds of people in December 1989.

Iliescu, who was president three times since 1989, has vehemently called his attackers "unhinged."

Moscow-educated Iliescu, now in his late 70s, seems to have lost his edge.

In June 1990, he had much more than tough words for the hundreds of anti-communist protesters holed up in tents in downtown Bucharest. Thousands of miners from the Jiu Valley in central Romania, armed with batons and chains, were ferried to the capital and unleashed against those who had dared question Iliescu's "legitimacy."

In the eyes of the world, the scenes of young men and women being beaten by Iliescu's hordes wiped away in an instant the heroic aura of the Romanian uprising of December 1989.

Little wonder that almost two decades later Iliescu, who still calls himself "the emanation of the revolution," is still not welcome anywhere near the survivors of both December 89 and June 90.

-- Eugen Tomiuc

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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