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Romanian Anticommunist Dissident Doina Cornea Dies At 88

Doina Cornea in Bucharest in 1990

Romanian anticommmunist dissident Doina Cornea, who condemned the excesses of Nicolae Ceausescu's regime during the 1980s in letters sent to RFE/RL, has died. She was 88.

Cornea's son, Leontin Iuhasz, said she died on May 4 in Romania's northwestern city of Cluj after a long illness.

An academic who taught French at a university in Cluj, Cornea came to international prominence in 1982 after she began sending letters to RFE/RL in which she criticized the large-scale destruction of Romanian villages and churches.

She also attracted the attention of Ceausescu's feared political police, the Securitate, who beat and arrested her repeatedly before she was eventually fired from her university in 1983.

Cornea was arrested again in November 1987, along with her son, after distributing leaflets in support of a workers' revolt in the central city of Brasov. She was later placed under permanent house arrest.

After being freed during the December 1989 revolt which toppled Ceausescu, Cornea was co-opted for a short time in the first postcommunist caretaker government -- the National Salvation Front (FSN).

Cornea left the FSN weeks later in protest at its announcement that it would turn into a political party and run in the first postcommunist election -- contrary to the FSN's initial pledge that it would dissolve after organizing the poll.

The leader of the FSN, former high-ranking Communist Party official Ion Iliescu, went on to become president in 1990 and was reelected twice after.

President Klaus Iohannis called Cornea a "symbol of courage and anticommunist resistance."

Cornea received several awards, including one from Pope John Paul II in 2003, and the French Legion of Honor for civil merits.

Written by Eugen Tomiuc with additional reporting by,, digi24hd, AP, and AFP
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