BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romanians nostalgic for the communist era gathered Thursday at the grave of former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, who were tried and executed on Christmas Day twenty-five years ago.
Some Romanians have made the pilgrimage to the Ghencea cemetery into an annual tradition. This year, about 15 people gathered at the burial place.
Ceausescu's 24-year-rule was characterized in the later years by food and power shortages and a lack of basic freedoms. But the few Romanians who turned up at his grave expressed nostalgia for an era where there was more security.
Caltea Oprea, a retired engineer, clutched two beeswax candles and said his red knitted scarf was a symbol of communism.
"After communism ended we were run by thieves and bandits," he told The Associated Press. "Ceausescu was not perfect but communism was a necessary evil; everyone had a job and a house."
Earlier this week, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis called for an investigation into the killings of over 1,100 people during the uprising that led to Ceausescu's downfall. They were shot, stabbed or run over by military vehicles.
Romania has implemented democratic and economic reforms since then, but no real investigation was made into the shooting of the unarmed demonstrators during the uprising because former communists retained power after 1989.
"The fact that there are people who today are free and have blood on their hands who committed crimes in communism and in the revolution shows that we as a society are incapable of... punishing the guilty," Iohannis said after he took office this week.