period of violent civil unrest in Romania in December 1989
The Romanian Revolution (Romanian: Revoluția Română) was a period of violent civil unrest in Socialist Romania during December 1989 as a part of the Revolutions of 1989 that occurred in several countries. The Romanian Revolution started in the city of Timișoara and soon spread throughout the country, ultimately culminating in the show trial and execution of longtime Communist Party General Secretary Nicolae Ceaușescu and his wife Elena, and the end of 42 years of Communist rule in Romania. It was also the last removal of a Marxist-Leninist government in a Warsaw Pact country during the events of 1989, and the only one that violently overthrew a country's government and executed its leader.
Early protests occurred in the city of Timișoara in mid-December on the part of the Hungarian minority in response to an attempt by the government to evict Hungarian Reformed church pastor László Tőkés. In response, Romanians sought revolution and a change in government in light of similar recent events in neighbouring nations. The country's ubiquitous secret police force, the Securitate, which was both one of the largest in the Eastern Bloc and for decades had been the main suppressor of popular dissent, frequently and violently quashing political disagreement, ultimately proved incapable of stopping the looming, and then highly fatal and successful revolt.Social and economic malaise had been present in the Socialist Republic of Romania for quite some time, especially during the austerity years of the 1980s. The austerity measures were designed in part by Ceaușescu to repay the country's foreign debts. Shortly after a botched public speech by Ceaușescu in the capital Bucharest that was broadcast to millions of Romanians on state television, rank-and-file members of the military switched, almost unanimously, from supporting the dictator to backing the protesters. Riots, street violence and murder in several Romanian cities over the course of roughly a week led the Romanian leader to flee the capital city on 22 December with his wife, Elena. Evading capture by hastily departing via helicopter effectively portrayed the couple as both fugitives and also acutely guilty of accused crimes. Captured in Târgoviște, they were tried by a drumhead military tribunal on charges of genocide, damage to the national economy and abuse of power to execute military actions against the Romanian people. They were convicted on all charges, sentenced to death, and immediately executed on Christmas Day 1989, and were the last people to be condemned to death and executed in Romania; before capital punishment was abolished permanently on 7 January 1990.
Present-day Romania has unfolded in the shadow of the Ceaușescus along with its Communist past, and its tumultuous departure from it. After Ceaușescu was toppled, the National Salvation Front quickly took power, promising free and fair elections within five months. Elected in a landslide the following May, the National Salvation Front, reconstituted as a political party, installed a series of economic and democratic reforms, with further social policy changes being implemented by later governments. Since that point, Romania has become far more integrated with the West than its former, albeit tepid, relations with Moscow. Romania became a member of NATO and the European Union in 2004 and 2007, respectively. Democratic reforms have proven to be moderately successful, though issues with corruption remain. Economic reforms continue, with Romania still possessing, for example, one of the highest child poverty rates in the developed world.
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