25th December 1989 in Sibiu

The first time I saw members of the Securitate myself was on December 25th 1989 in Sibiu. They were held as prisoners in an empty swimming pool, with a machinegun mounted on the diving board. The captured members of the Romanian Communist KGB on the bottom of the swimming pool looked to me like half dead fish in an aquarium. I traveled by car from revolutionary Timişoara to Bucharest so I could report for the freshly established Czech newspaper Lidové noviny. It happened that on that day they executed the Romanian dictator Ceauşescu in Târgovişte. I noticed his eyes in the television reports of the tribunal before his execution. I could see the same fear in them as in the eyes of the prisoners in the aquarium.

 

In Czechoslovakia we had already had our Velvet Revolution, and in Berlin the wall had come down. The Soviet Union soon broke up and the Communist Party of the USSR was disbanded. In August 1991 the coup led by the State Committee on the State of Emergency was suppressed. By coincidence, I was at that time in the besieged Moscow White House. Boris Yeltsin, protected by a bullet proof vest and standing on a tank, spoke of a democratic future. We embraced with members of the Russian Duma. We believed in a bright future, as bright as a summer’s day. We believed in the end of gloomy communist era. It was an amazing period. At that time it never crossed our minds that we might be wrong.

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Soon came the attack on Abkhazia, large scale slaughter in Chechnya, and the creeping transformation of Putin’s autocracy into dictatorship. The attack on Georgia in 2008. The attack on Ukraine exactly 25 years after the alleged fall of communism. In my country the communist party is becoming the second largest political party. Czech communists straightened themselves up and fear disappeared from the eyes of Czech KGB collaborators. They are organizing international communist conferences and they make no secret of the idea of creating a new communist Internationale.


Back then we were wrong. Our revolutions remained unfinished. However, they gave us the democratic tools to overcome communism once and for all. This included the creation of a European platform which clearly labels communism and places it at the same level as Nazism.

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