BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Corneliu Vadim Tudor, a nationalist politician and court poet to late Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, who attracted audiences by saying what mainstream politicians didn't dare, has died. He was 65.
Tudor died Monday hours after having been admitted to the Army's Emergency Clinic for Cardiovascular Disease, friend Marius Marinescu said.
Tudor began as a writer and poet and penned verses flattering Ceausescu. After communism collapsed, he founded the nationalist Greater Romania Party and the Greater Romania weekly, a publication which in its heyday in the early 1990s had a circulation of hundreds of thousands.
He wrote disparaging articles about Jews, Hungarians, Roma and liberal-minded Romanians. He was a lawmaker in the European Parliament from 2009 to 2014. He denied the Holocaust took place in Romania in a 2012 television interview.
During World War II, hundreds of thousands of Jews were killed in Romania and areas it controlled as an ally of Nazi Germany. Romania only began to commemorate the Holocaust in 2004.
He surprisingly reached the runoffs of the 2000 presidential race, which he lost to Ion Iliescu, who was elected president for a third time.
Iliescu praised him as "a man of culture" who loved his country and said he should not be judged "superficially."
Tudor wrote more than one dozen books and was also known for his flamboyant style of dressing, wit, ready insults and love of stray dogs. He was often cut off by television presenters because of his over-the-top remarks. He was the only politician to say he believed that Romania had housed CIA secret prisons.
He is survived by a wife and two daughters. Funeral plans were not immediately announced.