BUCHAREST, Romania - The late communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was deceived by his advisers and still believed that Romanians adored him hours before his overthrow, his only surviving child said yesterday in a rare interview two decades after the fall of the regime.
Valentin Ceausescu described his father as removed from reality in the hours before a rally organized to show support for the Stalinist leader turned against him, forcing him to flee the capital and leading to his overthrow.
Ceausescu suggested that advisers had kept his father in the dark and led him to misjudge popular anger over his misrule, and that his father instead blamed the Soviet Union for trying to overthrow him. "He was not informed about the [scope of] the discontent," Valentin said.
About 1,100 people were killed during the December 1989 revolt that ended Nicolae Ceausescu's 25-year rule. Most deaths occurred between Dec. 22, when the communist leader fled after the rally, and Christmas, when he and his wife, Elena, were executed after a hasty trial.
Ceausescu said he would have preferred to see his father killed immediately because hundreds of innocent lives were lost in the interim.
As other communist regimes collapsed, traditionally tolerant Romanians rose up, angered by years of draconian rationing as the dictator tried to pay off the country's foreign debt.
When the elder Ceausescu heard that the revolt that began in Timisoara Dec. 16 had spread to Bucharest, he believed it was instigated by "the Russians."
"I knew it wasn't only the Russians," Valentin Ceausescu said. "It was a rebellion against Ceausescu."
Valentin Ceausescu, 61, a nuclear physicist, said he followed his parents' trial on TV. "I just watched it and I felt ashamed I was Romanian," he said of the trial and its aftermath, including stark images of his parents slain by a firing squad.
Democracy swept away communism in East Germany and Czechoslovakia, but the Romanian old guard that took over after Ceausescu perpetuated communist practices. Today, Romania is mired in debt and paralyzed by political infighting.