Dissident Doubts New Regime's Commitment to Reform


DEFIANT Doina Cornea is dissatisfied. Almost alone, she spoke out for years against dictator Nicolae Ceausescu - and suffered constant harassment.

Romania's revolution suddenly made her respectable. The secret police who long kept her under house arrest in this Transylvanian city and beat up anyone who dared visit her - including once the British ambassador - have vanished. Grinning young soldiers now stand guard, letting visitors pass while protecting her from revenge by agents of the old regime.

Inside her damp, dark home, the dissident appears frail. Her tattered black pants and light sweater emphasize her small size. She speaks with a deceptive high squeak of a voice, but once asked a question, her voice takes on impressive power, clarity, and self-confidence.

Her tone is angry. She worries that the National Salvation Front running Romania is not committed to democracy. In her view, it is composed of former Communists who want to continue authoritarian rule under a new name.

``This National Front is mysterious,'' she said. ``When I went to Bucharest, I found that old Communists were dominant.''

What follows are excerpts from a two-hour talk:

On the revolution:

``What happened was spontaneous. Everybody felt solidarity with the victims in Timisoara. The front had nothing to do with it.''

On the role of young people:

``The revolution was a victory of the spirit over force. It was a victory of the young people, who were willing to give their lives. I saw children as young as 12 years old out in the front lines.''

On new President Ion Iliescu:

``I cannot say yes or no about him. He certainly is no opposition leader. He didn't oppose Ceausescu like others.''

On Mikhail Gorbachev:

``He protected Ceausescu for too long. We've suffered a lot because of the Russians. When the Russians said they'd come and support the revolutionaries, no one wanted them. I spoke with some generals and they said, `We don't need the Soviets.' Nobody wants the Russians here.''

On the Romanian Army's role:

``It would be preferable if the Army takes power, preferable to the present situation of old Communists and Securitate [secret police] men. Unfortunately it won't happen. The generals say politics is not their affair.''

On her recent visit to Bucharest:

``I was kept away from the real power. They constituted the committee without me. Who elected them? Nobody knows. They elected themselves.''

On Ceausescu's execution:

``The justice revolted me. It is against my spirit, my culture, my religion. But the people in Bucharest respond that it was necessary, that he represented a danger. Perhaps it is a necessary sacrifice.''

On Ceausescu's legacy:

``He did one great thing: His repression was so great that he brought Romanians and Hungarians together.''

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