58. Intelligence Information Special Report Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency1
DATE OF INFO
- April 1978 to July 1978
- Efforts by Romanian President Ceausescu to Damage or Undermine Radio Free Europe
- [1 paragraph (4 lines) not declassified]
1. Romanian President Ceausescu, on returning from his trip to the United States on 18 April 1978, during which Radio Free Europe (RFE) infuriated him by coverage that included live broadcasts of the playing of an outdated Romanian anthem and a press conference during which Ceausescu was required to deal with facts that had been kept hidden from the Romanian people, ordered that the Directorate General of Foreign Intelligence (DGIE) draw up a study of the occasions on which RFE had presented the Romanian Government and especially Ceausescu in an unfavorable light. The study was to deal also with methods used by RFE for collecting information (as RFE data were often very timely and accurate) and with the role played in the process by the American and West German Embassies [in Romania].2 The study would serve as a basis for lodging a protest to the United States at some time in the future. Ceausescu asked at the same time for talking points that might be used with West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, President Walter Scheel and Chairman of Social Democratic Party Willy Brandt in asking that RFE be compelled to quit the territory of West Germany. Some of these points, he added might be useful in Paris, where, he added, there was special need to put an end to the [Page 192] broadcasts by RFE commentators Monica Lovinescu and Virgiliu Ierunca. Perhaps he would go on to ask the Spanish Premier and Portuguese President that the relay stations in those countries be dismantled. An entire diplomatic campaign was not to be excluded, he said. (Source Comment: The importance that Ceausescu and the Romanian Government attach to RFE is reflected in the fact that a daily bulletin on RFE content is prepared by AGERPRES; Ceausescu receives one of the dozen copies made of the bulletin.)
2. Ceausescu after reflection levied additional requirements for the campaign against RFE. Suggestions were needed, he declared to Source, for luring one or more RFE employees to Romania with the idea that on their return home they would denounce RFE as a tool of the United States and the CIA. But while working to discredit RFE Ceausescu wanted to make simultaneous efforts to influence RFE to take a softer line toward Romania. Ceausescu suggested that it might be feasible to organize a roundtable discussion between RFE staffers and true-blue (meaning DGIE-directed) Romanian intellectuals in the hope that RFE would begin to look with more sympathy on Romanian activities.
3. According to General Alexandru Danescu, Deputy Minister of Interior, an opening for practicing suasion occurred in early July 1978 when a sportswriter (name unknown) for Romanian TV on his return from a trip to Germany came to Danescu to say that in Germany he had met Noel Bernard, RFE Romanian Desk Chief, whose wife he had known in the past. Bernard had mentioned to the journalist his interest in making a trip to Romania, in whatever guise—official or not, with public announcement or not, even using another name. Foreign Minister Stefan Andrei was advised, and the matter was discussed by Danescu and Andrei with Ceausescu, who said that the journalist should be sent back to Germany to tell Bernard that he had learned that the Foreign Ministry concurred in Bernard’s visit and that if Bernard would tell him when he intended to come and in what manner the journalist would arrange the rest of the trip with the Foreign Ministry. The journalist was to return to Germany in August and it was hoped that the Bernard trip would take place at an early date. Events since then are not known.
4. RFE coverage has also stirred Ceausescu to violence in the past. According to First Deputy Minister of the Interior Nicolae Doicaru, at least two actions were ordered in Paris. One concerned a man named [Serban] Stefanescu, who had been given permission to emigrate from Romania after having walked in front of the Intercontinental Hotel in Bucharest carrying placards denouncing Ceausescu; the President on being informed said that a man that foolish could only be stopped by killing him, so it was easier to kick him out of the country. On reaching France, however, Stefanescu began demonstrating in front of the [Page 193] Romanian Embassy for his mother to be allowed to depart Romania. When RFE began to carry items concerning the case, Ceausescu became indignant and ordered Doicaru to have Stefanescu put out of action, repeating his standard admonition that the man should not be killed and that the perpetrators should not appear to be Romanians. Two men were dispatched to Paris. Stefanescu’s habits were observed, with the decision being made to grab the man and throw him down a subway stairwell that he passed daily. This was in fact done and Stefanescu was not heard from again.
5. The other Paris case Source heard about from Doicaru involved Monica Lovinescu, the commentator (mentioned in Paragraph One above) whom Ceausescu was still trying to silence as of spring 1978. Lovinescu’s sin was to concentrate her criticism on Ceausescu, a tactic that always evoked a strong reaction from him. He earlier ordered Doicaru to harm her physically. Doicaru on this occasion used two Arabs. [In November 1977] they entered her apartment, a struggle ensued and Lovinescu fell to the floor in a way that made the assailants think she was dead. They fled. Ceausescu berated Doicaru for the laxness of the operation when Lovinescu came back on the air.
6. On an earlier occasion, Doicaru said that Ceausescu had given indications of how to deal with one of his most acid critics at RFE in Munich, Emil Georgescu. Ceausescu said the man’s teeth should be knocked out so that he could not speak on the radio and that this could perhaps best be done with a traffic accident. Doicaru used the two men who had proved their mettle with Stefanescu. They went to Munich, studied Georgescu’s movements, left for Austria to rent two cars with alias documents, and then returned to Munich to await Georgescu at a curve previously selected. One of the cars was used to ram Georgescu, and the other to flee the scene. Georgescu did not speak on RFE for four months after that. Although RFE had mentioned the accidents that had befallen Stefanescu and Lovinescu, nothing was said about Georgescu’s accident. Ceausescu declared his pleasure to Doicaru. The incident had a sequel. Georgescu’s wife not long thereafter called her mother in Romania and said that Georgescu had been hurt in an accident caused by Romania but that this was the wrong tactic; he might stop his broadcasts in return for something like granting his mother-in-law permission to leave the country but he would not be deterred by threats to himself. The call was intercepted and Ceausescu was advised. Let her go, he ordered, and the mother-in-law was told she was being put through by phone to Munich to announce her imminent arrival. Georgescu subsequently turned to practicing law.
- Source: National Security Council, Carter Administration Intelligence Files, Box I–026, Subject Files F–R, Romania. Secret; [handling restriction not declassified]. Henze forwarded the report to Brzezinski under a September 22 covering memorandum. In his memorandum, Henze noted that in August, Noel Bernard, Romanian Bureau director at Radio Free Europe, was invited to visit Romania, and that the RFE leadership sought approval for the visit. In light of the report, Henze recommended that Bernard’s visit be indefinitely postponed. Brzezinski approved the recommendation.↩
- These and following brackets are in the original.↩