DCAG v Ministry of the Interior
A story has been developing throughout the week which focusses on the tensions between the Government Department of Control and Anti-corruption (DCAG) and the Ministry of the Interior. On Monday, the head of DCAG, Ovidiu Grecea, revealed that one of his control teams in Vaslui and Neamţ counties had been followed by officers from UM 0962—a Ministry of the Interior intelligence gathering unit.
Grecea alleged that his people had also been threatened by these officers who demanded that the team abandon their enquiries into certain companies in the area. Grecea claimed that a colonel from UM 0962 in Neamţ county had links to the businesses the DCAG were investigating.
This information was presented to Prime Adrian Minister Năstase in a report which Grecea made public as well. The report also alleged that specific senior officials and three government ministers could be compromised because of business relationships. Grecea's report also raised the interests of ministers and officials from the previous administration. Minister of the Interior Ioan Rus responded by suggesting that all the allegations were based on simple stories, while the Prime Minister criticised Grecea's actions in making confidential elements of his report public.
EvZ online wrote on 15 March that Grecea's report highlighted an emergency ordinance, dated 26 February. This ordinance gives the Ministry of the Interior the right to secretly introduce its employees into other Government departments for intelligence gathering purposes. It also allows the Ministry of the Interior to create clandestine companies which could then enter into partnership with existing private companies. The key purpose would be to maintain a watching brief over a company's activities; however, the ordinance also allows for "sting" operations to provide evidence of illegal activity.
By Thursday, Grecea had resigned from his post. He said, "I am quitting because I do not wish to harm the Năstase Government's activities further. It is my gesture of honour." (Reuters, 15 March 2001) Grecea suggested that he felt that his resignation was expected by elements in the Government and said he was making way for someone who would be more loyal to the Prime Minister.
Teodor Botiş, a current junior minister, has been appointed as acting head of DCAG by Premier Năstase. Grecea has not been the only one to go. The colonel leading UM 0962 in Neamţ has been replaced—reports suggest that irregularities were found in his activities.
The role of CNSAS
Prime Minister and leader of the Party for Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) Adrian Năstase has attacked the National College for the Study of the Securitate Archives (CNSAS). Năstase said that he "never believed and still doesn't believe in the CNSAS and its role," (RFE Newsline, 13 March 2001) and called for the law relating to public access to the Securitate files to be modified.
The Prime Minister added that the role of CNSAS was linked to past events and personalities—he believed that money and resources should be used for Romania's future. Năstase said, "I think our money and resources must be focused on the future and I believe that washing our laundry in the public is useless and will cause fires." (Mediafax, 12 March 2001)
Mircea Dinescu, a member of CNSAS, responded by saying that the work of the organisation could be more effective if it were provided with proper offices. He added that their work was being impeded by the new leadership of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) that was preventing access to files held in their archives. He also referred to a letter from Radu Timofte, the head of SRI, which said that CNSAS should not make checks on the press or clergy.
Dinescu believes that the PDSR government wants to dispose of CNSAS before it can investigate Member of Parliament Ristea Priboi. Priboi, Head of the parliamentary committee overseeing the operation of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE), is alleged to have been involved with the Securitate.
On Wednesday, the newspaper Evenimentul Zilei made an official request to CNSAS that 100 public figures, named in their paper, be checked for previous collaboration with the Securitate. Under the present law, CNSAS has 30 days to make a written response. Evenimentul Zilei have called on other journalists to join their campaign against any attempt to stop the activities of CNSAS. "The one who does not know his past cannot understand his present." (EvZ, 15 March 2001)
Deputy Mayor of Bucharest's Second District Tudor Dan has said that the city cannot afford USD 22,000 to dismantle and make safe a piece of nuclear equipment. The nuclear installation, supplied by the Soviet Union to the Institute of Physics in 1974, contains Cobalt 60a radioactive substance. It was discovered in a disused building in the city centre. As the unit is sealed and encased in lead, the Ministry of Water and the Environment have said that it is not a danger to the public. However, experts disagree saying that, in the event of fire or earthquake, the potential danger is immense.
Following his initiative to control the stray dog population, Mayor of Bucharest Traian Băsescu has taken on another plaguevermin. The city is filled with rats that live in decaying buildings and in the sewer system where they breed. Besides rats, the city is infested each summer with swarms of mosquitoes that are believed to carry the encephalitis virus. Băsescu has set out plans for 18 pest-control teams to operate in the city at a cost of USD 18 million a year—promising that foul smelling control chemicals will not be used.
President Ion Iliescu has taken steps to bring about reconciliation between himself and former King Michael I. Iliescu invited King Michael to join him at the opening of a Modern Art Gallery within the National Art Museum, a former royal palace, on 24 March. The former King, who now lives in Switzerland, told the presidential advisors who visited him that he was unable to attend because of prior engagements.
However, sources close to King Michael suggest that if the invitation had been preceded by an apology (for the behaviour of the Iliescu regime towards him between 1990 and 1996) he may well have attended.
Minister of Culture Răzvan Theodorescu has affirmed that he would pay up to USD 2 million for Constantin Brancusi's sculpture "Bust of a Boy." Theodorescu, in inaugurating the "2001—Brâncuşi Year" programme, said that it was his intention to bring back to Romania as many of the artist's sculptures as possible during the year.
Theodorescu only had to pay USD 400,000 in the end. Even so, this has led to much criticism as the present owner of the sculpture had offered the work for sale at USD 200,000 about six months ago. Experts value the sculpture at no more than USD 125,000.
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