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Geopolitics

A Quarter-Century Late, "Romanian Nuremberg" Finally Begins

A full 25 years after the fall of Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, the brutal commandant of a labor camp for political prisoners is finally being tried for alleged atrocities.

A screen shot image of Visinescu last year
A screen shot image of Visinescu last year
Alexandre Lévy

BUCHAREST — Born in 1925, Alexandru Visinescu lived a quiet, remorseless and very comfortable life until last year. The former commandant of the Ramnicu Sarat forced labor camp in eastern Romania was enjoying the equivalent of a $1,700 monthly pension, eight times more than the minimum pension paid to most Romanians of his age.

It was a pension he believed he definitely deserved because he did nothing more than "follow orders" at the camp where political opponents to the Communist regime were detained. Researchers from the Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and Memory of the Romanian Exile (IICCMER) beg to differ.

After a first, failed attempt to bring him to court, last year IICCMER leaked the story of the abuses Visinescu and more than 30 of his then-colleagues committed: tortures, summary executions, food and sleep deprivation, beatings, exposure to the cold, etc. The list is so long and terrifying that the justice system spent a good time of time pondering how the crimes should be classified. "Genocide" or "crimes against humanity?" Then, encouraged by public opinion, the justice machine ignited.

Visinescu has the dubious distinction of topping this "list of 35" criminals. His trial, which some are already dubbing the "Romanian Nuremberg," began last month, 25 years after the fall of repressive Communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu, and almost 50 years after the atrocities for which he is being tried. After Visinescu appeared in court, the case was adjourned until October 22.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

The "Corrosion" Strategy: How Ukraine Targets Russian Networks And Morale

Russia continues to shrink its ambitions in Donbas, as Ukraine doubles down on its strategy of guerilla attacks, interrupting supply and communication contacts and ultimately undermines the morale of the enemy.

Ukrainian soldiers sitting atop a tank in Donbas on May 22

Clemens Wergin

For years to come, military experts will be studying how Ukraine managed to push back a far stronger enemy and grind Russia’s major offensive in the east of the country to a halt.

Some military strategists are already trying to find a term to sum up the Ukrainians’ success. Australian military expert and retired army major general Mick Ryan credited Kyiv's stunning showing to "the adoption of a simple military strategy: corrosion. The Ukrainian approach has embraced the corrosion of the Russian physical, moral, and intellectual capacity to fight and win in Ukraine.”

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Ryan argues that while the Ukrainians have used the firepower they possess to halt the Russian advance, while aggressively targeting their enemy’s greatest shortcoming. “They have attacked the weakest physical support systems of an army in the field – communications networks, logistic supply routes, rear areas, artillery and senior commanders in their command posts,” Ryan wrote.

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