On 11 March 2011, the Romanian Supreme Court of Justice branded Dan Voiculescu a Securitate collaborator, as the National Council for the Study of Securitate Archives did in mid-2006. Voiculescu’s past was first verified in 2000, in virtue of Law 187/1999, which called for the vetting of all electoral candidates. Verifications led to no revelations, since a decision of President Emil Constantinescu and Information Service director Costin Georgescu declared the files of most post-communist politicians as files touching on “national security.” Those files were not transferred to the National Council, but they remained in the custody of the Information Service, and could not be used by the Council to decide the (non)collaboration of post-communist political luminaries. With none of Voiculescu’s secret files at its disposal, the Council had no choice but to declare that he did not collaborate with the political police. Before the 2004 elections, candidates were again vetted, but Voiculescu’s non-collaboration verdict was upheld, in the absence of new secret documents. In 2006, the card index of the Securitate secret archives and one million secret files were transferred from the Information Service to the Council. Shortly afterwards, when Voiculescu publicly announced his ambition to become Romania’s vice-premier, his secret file arrived at the Council, which called him for an interview.

His secret file contained a written note signed by informer “Felix” in 1977, in which Voiculescu offered information about an Austrian citizen of Romanian descent, Leo Gottfried. Voiculescu deplored Gottfried’s penchant to “criticize our [communist] politics” and efforts to convince Romanian citizens to flee the country and to assume “revolutionary” positions vis-à-vis communist laws. During discussions with the Council, Voiculescu claimed that Gottfried had not suffered as a result, although a statement submitted his victim argued against this view. “Felix” filed with the Securitate a series of notes, some providing information on his own relatives. Voiculescu became a secret informer in 1970, under the code name “Mircea”, while in 1973 he was recruited as a secret officer for Direction III, under the code name “Felix” (1). Insisting on his innocence, in 2006 Voiculescu approached the Constitutional Court with a complaint against Law 187/1999 that allowed the creation of the National Council. The Court sided with Voiculescu and struck Law 187/1999 as unconstitutional, although in seven earlier occasions it had found no fault with the law. As the Court decision threatened to shut the Council down, the government allowed the Council to continue its activity as a secret archive custodian, but not as an institution handing down (non)collaboration verdicts. Once the Appeal Court upheld the Council’s collaboration verdict in 2010, Voiculescu approached the Supreme Court. In February 2011, his lawyer unsuccessfully asked the Court to consider a statement in which Voiculescu claimed that he had been forced to work for the Securitate. In the statement Voiculescu indirectly admitted to his tainted past.

After the release of the Supreme Court resolution, Voiculescu threatened to contest the “absolutely incorrect” decision, which “reflects the immense pressure faced by the Supreme Court justice,” and to approach the European Court of Human Rights to regain the “immense moral prejudice” he had suffered (2). The Romanian legislation calls for former Securitate agents to give up their public office if their collaboration is proven in a court of law (because they provided untruthful collaboration statements, and those statements are considered official documents). As a result of the legislative lack of clarity, no politician has lost his/her post to date. That does not mean that Voiculescu was cleared in the eyes of the public. For some, he was not just a Securitate informer, but “the very face of the Securitate, and no [court] verdict could deny this” (1).

Voiculescu remains one of the most controversial Romanian politicians, a communist relic with a spectacular post-communist political career. Rumor has it that his considerable wealth is rooted in Ceausescu’s secret Swiss accounts. In 1990, the Romanian government asked the Canadian firm hired to track down Ceausescu’s money to stop its investigation, while in 2008 the Parliament declared that Ceausescu had no secret accounts. Since 1989, Voiculescu has built a successful financial empire that includes a powerful mass-media trust which, according to the Romanian press, gathers public support for his political agenda and engages in smear campaigns against his political rivals. Since 2004, he’s been a senator. His most prominent political contribution took place in 2007, when President Traian Basescu was impeached on the basis of a report written by a commission chaired by Voiculescu. (Basescu resumed his mandate following a referendum.) Since 1991, Voiculescu has headed his own political formation, the Romanian Humanist Party, which in 2005 was renamed the Conservative Party. From 2005 to 2006, the party was a junior partner in the governing coalition headed by the center-right Truth and Justice Alliance. After the 2008 general elections, it joined the opposition, forging an alliance first with the center-left Social Democrat Party, heir to the Communist Party, and then with the center-right National Liberal Party. The Conservatives seems to be a personal, pragmatic party animated by the desire to gain public office, supporting a conservative agenda centered on the family, religion and nationalism.

It is doubtful that the Supreme Court verdict will convince the Romanian political elite to marginalize Voiculescu. The number of politicians with ties to the former communist regime – because of their membership in the Communist Party or collaboration with the Securitate – is extremely high. Many of the younger politicians are in fact the sons and daughters of former communists. This is an elite with little incentive to condemn tainted relationships with a repressive regime with which they or their close relatives have collaborated. It is equally doubtful that the journalists and reporters who work for Voiculescu will raise questions about his probity and refusal to acknowledge his past. Even more regretful is the fact that not even the electorate will refuse to support him. The Romanian voters have been easily bought with all kinds of ephemerides. It is certain, however, that Voiculescu and his former secret comrades could not built political careers if a lustration law were implemented during the 1990s.

Notes:
(1) Christian Campeanu, “Felix Voiculescu, chipul hidos al Securitatii,” Romania Libera, 4 martie 2011, available at: http://www.romanialibera.ro/opinii/editorial/felix-voiculescu-chipul-hidos-al-securitatii-218539.html
(2) Razvan Voiculescu and Stefan , “Verdict final: Dan Voiculescu a facut politie politica,” Romania Libera, 10 martie 2011, available at: http://www.romanialibera.ro/actualitate/justitie/verdict-definitiv-dan-voiculescu-a-facut-politie-politica-219082.html

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