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Nicolae Ceausescu was the leader of Communist Romania for more than two decades until his execution in 1989.
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Presiding with his wife Elena, whom he tapped as deputy prime minister, Ceausescu turned his back on Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev and his calls for broad economic reform, and instead voiced his preference for traditional central planning. Shortly before losing power, Ceausescu caused panic throughout the country when he threatened to bulldoze rural settlements of less than 2,
000 people so that large agro-industrial centers could be constructed. His domestic rule also included surveillance of his citizens and violent reprisal against any dissent.
As Romania's standard of living failed to improve, Ceausescu's grip on power started to weaken. In November 1987, in a scene that would have been unthinkable just a few years before, thousands of workers stormed the Communist Party headquarters in Brasov. Records were destroyed, as was a grand portrait of Ceausescu.
Finally, in December of 1989, a popular revolt, aided by the army, pushed the Ceausescus from power and into the courtroom. As Romania wrestled with violence, the country's new leaders wanted to show the population that it no longer needed to worry about the Ceausescus.
On December 24, in a show trial that lasted less than an hour, the couple was charged with genocide and other crimes. Shortly after their conviction, the Ceausescus were led outside and executed by a firing squad. The two were buried at the Ghencea Cemetery in Bucharest.
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