PtG Article 08.09.2006

Romanian president wants Securitate files on athletes opened

Nearly 17 years after the collapse of the communist regime in Romania, the files of Romania’s dreaded secret police, Securitate, are being opened. A commission will examine the files of politicians, journalists and the clergy but Romanian president Traian Basescu also wants the files of athletes to be declassified and opened to public scrutiny.

Romania is preparing its bid to join the European Union next year, and as a step towards more transparency in government a national commission is now trying to sort through the 1.3 million files held in the archives of the secret police Securitate. The Securitate  was much hated by the Romanians as it forced people to spy on friends, family and colleagues.

Last month the Romanian newspaper Adevarul published an article where several named sources confirmed that Romanian athletes going abroad had to cooperate with Securitate and that many major athletes of the Steaua and Dinamo football clubs had been recruited into the service.

This is confirmed by football coach Cornel Dinu who said that the clubs would have not been able to achieve success without cooperating with Securitate:

“I cooperated with the Securitate from a soccer point of view. I was an officer, and Dinamo was the Securitate’s team, and we had to make written statements every time a sportsman defected abroad,” Dinu told Adevarul.

Romanian athletes want files opened but not as a priority

Now the Romanian president has asked the Romanian Intelligence Service to consider declassifying the files of Romanian athletes too, reports Romanian news agency Mediafax.

The reactions from the Romanian sports community have been mixed, reports Mediafax.

Octavian Belu, Romania’s state advisor for sports problems used to be coach for the national gymnastics team and he denies ever having written notes for Securitate. But Rudel Obreja, head of the Romanian Boxing Federation admits to writing numerous notes for Securitate when he was a boxer for the Dinamo club because that was an obligation for all sportsmen at that time.

Obreja says that it is important to make the Securitate files of all sportsmen public because no one is above the law. Nicu Vlad, president of the Romanian Weightlifting Federation, on the other hand says that the government ought to spend more money on sports than on identifying those athletes who were “former collaborators of a former communist secret police.”

However, according to Mediafax most former athletes and sports manager seem to agree that it is a good idea to declassify the athlete’s files but it should not be a priority and will not affect the image of Romanian sport much, they believe. Meanwhile some Romanian politicians calls it a “collateral diversion” to check up on athletes because it takes the attention away from the fundamental objective of exposing politicians.

According to Associated Press many Romanians think it is important to open the files and face up to the past. The official commission checking Securitate files will be issuing verdicts on whether informants harmed the people they snooped on but at the moment there is no punishment for having been an informer. That may change though as a draft law proposes to exclude people from public life if they are found to have collaborated with the former regime.