BUCHAREST, ROMANIA, JUNE 16 -- The Romanian government tonight ordered an investigation into three days of violence in the capital, a move that appeared to be in reaction to international condemnation of a vigilante rampage in which an estimated 10,000 miners beat and arrested anti-government protesters.
The government met for the first time following the violence, Romania's most serious since the December overthrow of Communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu, and gave its first statement of disapproval at the miners' behavior, saying there had been "certain excesses . . . in reestablishing law and order." The government, which summoned the miners to Bucharest Thursday to help put down protests, said "command weaknesses" explained why "some army units hesitated to intervene rapidly" to prevent violence by the miners.
The communique did not mention criticism from the United States, France and other Western countries or from Romania's erstwhile allies in Eastern Europe.
The communique said the government "ordered an investigation of the acts of violence committed starting June 13," the day police broke up a 53-day sit-in by hundreds of dissidents, beating some and burning their tents. That incident prompted attacks by protesters against the Interior Ministry and state-controlled television.
That day, President-elect Ion Iliescu appealed on state radio for workers to come to Bucharest. Iliescu thanked the miners before their departure Friday night, and acting Prime Minister Petre Roman described the miners' behavior as "understandable."
But Radu Campeanu, the leader of the National Liberal Party, who fled an attack by miners on his home, told a news conference this evening that "those who had the idea of bringing the miners in committed a grave political error." Campeanu and Ion Ratiu, the National Peasant Party leader, returned to their ransacked homes today as life in the capital returned to nearly normal.
Still, in a throwback to the Ceausescu era and its legacy of telephone tapping, some other prominent critics of the regime took to calling foreign journalists from pay telephones and reportedly still feared to return to their homes.
The Health Ministry said six Romanians were killed in the three days of violence and 502 taken to hospitals for treatment. Seven of the 110 still in hospitals were listed in serious condition. Health Ministry figures showed that four had been killed and only 93 injured by the time of the miners' arrival, suggesting that the miners, who beat protesters with clubs and iron bars, were responsible for most of the injuries.
The government communique expressed regret that "some citizens without any links with the events of the previous days were molested" and denounced as "unacceptable" the miners' "sacking" of the National Liberal and Peasant parties' headquarters. The communique cited the "irreversible character of the democratic process" here and reiterated the government's commitment to ensure the freedom of political expression and of the press, radio and television.
But state-run television, which repeatedly broadcast footage of the violence by protesters, has shown no film of the miners beating up citizens, and increasingly Romanians are returning to the Ceausescu-era habit of gleaning their news from Romanian-language broadcasts of the British Broadcasting Corp., Radio Free Europe and the Voice of America.
Prime Minister Roman said on Friday that the government would not ban publications, but pro-government print workers at the country's only independent daily newspaper, Romania Libera, shut it down Thursday and Friday, saying it was "selling hatred and disorder."
In their rampage, the miners destroyed a modern Belgian offset press that the National Liberal Party owned but had not yet put in use.
The government showed sensitivity to extensive foreign television coverage of the violence, with the director of state television, Razvan Teodorescu, telling local and foreign journalists at a news conference that "certain press organs who are represented here are hitting below the belt."
Teodorescu explained state television's lack of coverage of the miners' violence by saying that miners prevented his crews from working, and that the police helicopter normally used by Romanian television was "too small."
Adevarul, the official newspaper of Iliescu's National Salvation Front, printed a list of what it said were errors in reporting on the violence by foreign journalists. The article's headline called them "Wild Inventions in a Chorus of Calumny."