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Authorities Crack Down on Anti-Government Critics With AM-Romania

December 16, 1987

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) _ Authorities arrested or otherwise prevented government critics from speaking to Western reporters who were in town to cover the Communist Party conference that ended Wednesday, diplomatic sources say.

At least two critics, one a former ambassador to the United States, were apparently placed under house arrest in Bucharest, Western diplomats say.

Three other Romanians, who criticized this Balkan nation’s Communist leaders during an interview with a French television station last month, have been arrested, said the diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Romania is one of the Soviet bloc’s most tightly controlled societies. There are no known organized dissident groups and few confirmed reports of public resistance to the country’s old-style Communist leaders.

Security this week has been extremely tight throughout the capital, with hundreds of police posted on street corners and police cars constantly patrolling the area.

Western diplomats based in Bucharest say there appears to have been a coordinated effort by authorities to isolate critics from foreign visitors during the conference.

Silviu Brucan, the former ambassador, appears to be under house arrest in Bucharest, the diplomats said.

Brucan has twice in recent weeks warned Communist authorities against clamping down harshly on workers who took to the streets in the northern city of Brasov last month to protest food and energy shortages.

Several Western reporters who tried to visit him Tuesday, including an Associated Press correspondent, were turned back by police a block from his home. They were told by police that the area was off limits to visitors because President and Communist Party chief Nicolae Ceausescu lives nearby.

Brucan could also not be reached by telephone.

Reporters were also turned back at the door of the Bucharest apartment building of Mariana Botez.

Mrs. Botez was among people who told the French television network earlier this month there was a climate of fear in Romania and several people had disappeared.

She is the wife of Mihai Botez, a leading mathemetician and former economic advisor to Ceausescu who is in the United States.

Diplomats say the other three Romanians who appeared in the French TV interview have been arrested. They were Doina Cornea and her son, Leontin Ivhas, in the northern city of Cluj and Radu Filipescu, an electronics engineer in Bucharest.

The French government has said it plans to discuss the arrests with Romanian authorities.

Diplomats also said Nelu Prodan, a lawyer and Baptist Church activist, was arrested Sunday in the city of Timosoara and charged with bribery.

They described Prodan as one of the few lawyers who would defend church activists in the capital and said they had expected he would eventually get into trouble with authorities.

Romanian officials deny they have prevented foreign visitors from meeting with Communist party critics here.

″You can meet anyone, just ask the proper (press) authorities,″ Deputy Foreign Minister Traian Pop told reporters Tuesday.

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