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Death Of A Romanian Archivist

Constantin Ticu Dumitrescu, one of Romania's best-known anti-communist dissidents, died today in a Bucharest hospital. He was 80.

Romanian President Traian Basescu said it was "a sad moment for the entire Romanian society." And Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu said that "if Romanians have access to Securitate files, this is largely due to Constantin Ticu Dumitrescu."

He's right. Dumitrescu, a lawyer, was sentenced to 27 years in prison in 1949 for being an enemy of the state. He spent about 15 years in jail, under house arrest, or forced labor institutions. After the fall of communism, he was briefly a member of Romania's Senate and led the Association of Former Political Prisoners.

In 2000, he published a book called "Witness and Document," describing his experience in Romania's communist prisons and work camps.

But he is best known in today's Romania for his efforts to address the country's communist legacy. He headed the National Council for the Study of the Securitate Archives (CNSAS), an independent body which opened and studied the files of Romania's feared secret police.

Dumitrescu also drafted a "lustration" bill, inspired by post-communist legislation in Czechoslovakia and Germany, which suggested banning from public office former informers or Securitate agents. The bill, however, was rejected by the Romanian parliament.

As his colleagues from the CNSAS said in an obituary today, they will miss their "spiritual father."

-- Mircea Ticudean

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