Composer of Romanian anti-communist hymn dies

The composer of a song that inspired Romanians in their struggle against vestiges of the communist regime has died. He was 46.

A friend, Teodor Maries, told private Pro-Tv he found Cristian Paturca dead in his apartment Tuesday. Paturca was suffering from tuberculosis and long-term liver problems.

Paturca became one of Romania's most prominent democracy activists when he wrote "Imnul Golanilor" or "The Hooligans' Hymn" in 1990 for anti-government protesters, called "hooligans" by then-President Ion Iliescu. The communist regime of Nicolae Ceausescu had collapsed in 1989 in a revolution where more than 1,300 people died.

One line from the song, "better dead than a Communist," became part of Romania's post-1989 vocabulary. The word "golan" now means a pro-democracy activist as well as a hooligan.

Romanians protested for weeks in University Square against the continued presence of former Communists in the post-Ceausescu government. The protest was broken up by club-wielding miners in June 1990 in riots where six were killed, and dozens injured. Iliescu thanked the miners for "restoring democracy," causing outrage in Romania and abroad.

Dan Voina, who investigated Romania's revolution, compared the "Hooligans' Hymn" to the France's national anthem "La Marseillaise" which was a rallying call for the French revolution.

"It had an important role that is necessary in popular revolts for the solidarity of protesters and pushing them toward achieving a common goal," he was quoted as saying by daily Romania Libera on Tuesday.

President Traian Basescu awarded the ailing Paturca the National Cross for faithful service in April, twenty years after he composed the hymn.