Spy kids

Huge flap in Romania this week, as it’s been revealed that the Communist-era secret police recruited children to spy on parents and classmates.

This should come as no surprise. Nicolae Ceaucescu was a creepy little thug, and his Securitate were the scum of the earth. If you can think of a sleazy, evil activity, there’s a good chance Old Nic was into it. Assassinating troublesome Romanians abroad? Absolutely. Torture? Dude, they had training courses. Rewriting history, complete with forged photographs? They had a building full of people for that. You can argue whether Ceausescu was a “Stalinist” or not, but his regime knew all the tricks, and used them.

So, of course they had kids spying on their parents. For everything from Mom’s habit of listening to foreign radio stations to Dad’s jokes about the Ceausescus. While people may not have known this, exactly, it’s not something that should come as a shock.

So why the fuss?
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Miners

I’m writing from Bucharest, Romania. The Romanians haven’t shown a lot of interest in what’s happening in Ukraine. Oh, they’re following it, but it doesn’t seem to grab their imagination. Part of this, I think, is because they’re distracted — they have a big election of their own, for Parliament and the Presidency, this weekend. And, too, Romanians consider themselves “part of Europe”, while Ukraine is seen as outside. But whatever the reason, they don’t seem too interested.

Except for one detail.

Apparently Yanukovic and his supporters have been busing thousands of coal miners into the capital. Every Romanian that I’ve talked to has commented on this.

Why? Well, you have to know a little recent Romanian history.

Bucharest, 1991:
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