Romanian Communist Official And Diplomat Silviu Brucan, 90
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Silviu Brucan, 90, a top communist official and diplomat in postwar Romania who later became one of the few strong voices of opposition to dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, died of a heart attack Sept. 14 at Bucharest's University Hospital, 10 days after undergoing stomach surgery.
Mr. Brucan was a self-declared Stalinist and served as chief editor of the Communist daily Scanteia starting in 1944. In 1955, he was appointed ambassador to the United States, and from 1959 to 1962 he served as ambassador to the United Nations. He later served as head of Romania's public radio and television stations and wrote speeches for communist leader Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej.
With the rise to power of Ceausescu in 1965, Mr. Brucan resigned his position. He eventually became one of the few outspoken opponents of Ceausescu, which led to his house arrest in 1987 and harassment by the secret police, or Securitate.
In early 1989, Mr. Brucan was one of six dissidents to sign a letter criticizing Ceausescu. Later that year, Ceausescu was toppled in a bloody revolt led by the National Salvation Front, with Mr. Brucan as one of the group's leaders. Ceausescu was executed Dec. 25, 1989.
Mr. Brucan shocked Romanians by telling them then they were "stupid" and would need 20 years to learn democracy. Nearly 17 years later -- with the country beginning to deal openly with the legacy of fear perpetuated by the Securitate -- some Romanians, including current President Traian Basescu, say he was right.
Born Saul Bruckner in Bucharest, Mr. Brucan changed his name because of the anti-Semitism of the time. He recalled in a 1998 interview with the Associated Press how humiliated he was at school, saying he received low grades because of his Jewish origins while children of pro-fascist families received favored treatment.
In recent years, he was derided by the nationalist weekly Great Romania as the "terrorist Jew who praised Stalin."
As editor of Scanteia, Mr. Brucan called for the imprisonment and harsh punishment of anti-communist dissidents, a position he said he came to regret after communism ended.
After 1989, he became one of Romania's top analysts and until recently had a TV show called "Prophecies About the Past." He also informally advised former president Ion Iliescu.
Mr. Brucan was outspoken about the Securitate at a time when many others were afraid to speak openly, even after Ceausescu's death. In 1998, Mr. Brucan said many former officers and informants held key positions in the media, parliament and government, and their influence would not end until the country excluded former Securitate collaborators from holding office.
Eight years later, Romania finally began to open its Securitate files and to draft legislation calling for excluding Securitate informers and officers from office.
Survivors include his wife, Alexandra Sidorovici.