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Romanian politician, leader of the Romanian Communist Party (RCP), in power between 1965 and 1989.
Nicolae Ceausescu joined the underground RCP in 1933 and was imprisoned for anti-fascist activities between 1936 – 1938 and 1940 – 1944. After World War II he was elected to the Grand National Assembly and was soon given ministerial posts.
He was inducted into the party secretariat and Politburo in 1954–55. In 1965 he became leader of the RCP and from 1967 chair of the state council. He was elected president in 1974.
He pursued a policy line independent of and critical of the USSR. He appointed family members, including his wife Elena Ceausescu (1919 – 1989), to senior state and party posts, and governed in an increasingly repressive manner, zealously implementing schemes that impoverished the nation.
As revolutionary changes rocked Eastern Europe, protests in Romania escalated until the Ceausescu regime was toppled in a bloody revolutionary coup in December 1989.
The Ceausescu’s were executed on Christmas Day that year (pictured below). After his execution, the full extent of his repressive rule and personal extravagance became public.