To understand the media campaign against MISA, one has to seek and analize it’s sources and origins
by Mihaela Gheorghiu
Motto: “The investigations convincingly suggest SRI (Romanian Intelligence Service) involvement in the stigmatizing campaign against MISA members, lasting at least since 1992. I was able to document the brutal methods used even before 1989 by security officers against yoga practitioners – later on initiators of MISA. Someone might argue that, given the entry into SRI of former Security officers, or by keeping the former communists in, we have an institutional continuity that places the beginning of abuses as far as 20 years ago.”
(Note: this statement was made in 2009) – Gabriel Andreescu [in “The freedom to be different than you are allowed – About yoga movement repression in the ’80s.” Talking with Gabriel Andreescu. Interviewed by journalist Mihai Lisei, in Tribuna magazine, no. 161, May, 16-31 2009]
It seems utterly impossible to understand what lies behind the media campaign to discredit Gregorian Bivolaru, if we analyze point by point the current state of the campaign. Despite the huge number of articles and broadcasts on this topic, the information that we can find in the press is strikingly scarce. This campaign is absurd and incomprehensible, especially for those who know Bivolaru and have even a faint idea about the activity of MISA Yoga School, because it has nothing to do with reality.
How did media get to build a parallel reality in the case of MISA and Gregorian Bivolaru? How is it possible to publish an obsessive depiction of Gregorian Bivolaru that has nothing to do with truth? How can the media publish deceitful articles one after another presenting a completely false picture of a yoga school and its mentor, although there are tens of thousands of people who contradict this distorted vision of the press? Is this a mere happening, or it is a situation that has accidentally degenerated over the years, or are all of these the result of elaborated targeted actions?
Whereas the study of the current status of the campaign to discredit MISA will rather raise more pertinent questions (than answer them), a perspective shift turns out necessary. To be more specific, if we analyze this camapign in the long run, we will have the opportunity to realize what has happened, who is pulling the strings, what is their aim and how they got here. We can put things together and get an objective picture if we analyze the campaign to discredit MISA from its very beginning in the 1990s, immediately after the so-called December revolution.
We will discover that the war against the image of MISA has the features of a strategy plotted and perseverently followed by evil minds, who use media to support a discrediting campaign. And everything is rooted in the hatred and bitterness of the Security system against a genuine spiritual practice and against people who refused to give up their ideals during the communist period.
Brief historical incursion – before the establishment of MISA. The propagandists of the Security system
During communism, yoga movement was not favorably regarded by the Security. After yoga was outlawed, all yoga practitioners were monitored by Security, especially those who were trainers. Among all yogis, Bivolaru was considered the most dangerous “subversive element” and “enemy of the communist regime” being continuously monitored, harassed, and interrogated by the Security agents.
Times were somewhat different from what is happening now, for political police repression was obscure, hidden. Much of the terror and domination of the Security came from the subversive mode of action, from the fact that everything was done secretly and so they could get control and take repressive measures without people knowing about it. In other words, although the Security has invested many resources in trying to stop the yoga practice, they didn’t take the risk to present Bivolaru’s case in the press during communism times, even if the Security was having almost full control over the media. There wouldn’t be such thing as a public campaign to discredit against yogis, though they were continuously cruelly harassed.
But there was even then an interesting element of propaganda. A certain Mario Sorin Vasilescu periodically published articles presenting yoga in a populist manner, presenting unfavorably the esoteric elements that give true value to this ancient system and criticizing the traditional yogic vision. Before 1989, (as well as in 1990), Mario Sorin Vasilescu was the only yoga teacher in Romania who wouldn’t get in trouble with the secret services. He was the only one whose articles appeared in the press, and his articles by no accident, were against an authentic traditional style to teach and practice yoga.
In the Security archives researcher Gabriel Andreescu has discovered what lies behind this “benevolence” of the press towards “Mario Sorin Vasilescu’s yoga” and behind the violence with which Mario Sorin Vasilescu criticized in the press traditional yoga and yoga “rival” schools. Mario Sorin Vasilescu was paid by Security to write propaganda articles! The assignments, amounts received and the way in which “agent Mario” perfomed his tasks makes it clear that the source of his editorial inspiration were the orders from Security!
When and how the image campaign against MISA started : the Security officers and informants
Yogis’ “relation” with their Security torturers is briefly explained by Gabriel Andreescu: “In addition to the stubbornness whith which yoga devotees continued their activities despite acts of repression, the direct confrontation of Security officers explains their anger. In December 1989 they were still experiencing the frustration of an unfinished battle. Security had been dealing with Bivolaru’s group for seven years, making it the only example of a long time collective resistance under the Ceausescu regime.” [Gabriel Andreescu, “MISA radiography of repression”]
It was by no accident that the first media attack against Bivolaru came soon after the Revolution, in an extremist magazine founded by former Security officers in March 1990: Europe magazine. In an editorial signed by its director, Ilie Neacsu (later PSD and PRM deputy), Gelu Voican Voiculescu was attacked virulently, and as an element of propaganda against him, an alleged connection with Gregorian Bivolaru is speculated.
This first insulting article, even if not directly aimed to the yoga teacher, hall-marked the campaign that followed, although it’s been more than 25 years since. Was that another bone to pick up between parties? Personal revenge? Taking action due to an agressive cautiousness in order to avoid exposing the brutal repression in communist times, and the fact that they had made political police? Or literally, at first, yogis have “been caught in the middle” between the interests fight of the various branches of the secret services?
About Gelu Voican Voiculescu we have already published on yogaesoteric.net number of important revelations. The fact is that Bivolaru has suffered because of Gelu Voican under communism and thus he immediately replied to the article published in Europe magazine, asking not to be associated with this miserable character.
At the time there was no way for Bivolaru to know that Voican Voiculescu was among Securitate informers and rats. But he had been invited by Gelu Voican Voiculescu to join Freemasonry and later was brutally questioned to give information about his activity. Bivolaru did not offer any information about Gelu Voican Voiculescu when he was violently investigated but G. V. Voiculescu frequently informed on Grieg, trying to make up nicely to Security officers.
Later on, the same shadowy character, involved in Security’s power games in the 1990s – Gelu Voican Voiculescu – did not miss any opportunity to give false statements about Bivolaru to media.
The first campaigns : Security’s people, newspapers and documents
The remarkable success of the Yoga School founded by MISA in 1990 drew cautious reactions at first, which became anxious, and afterwards hostile from a particular branch of the state authorities which were strongly imprinted with the security mentality, in the 1990s.
The fact that there were tens of thousands of yoga practitioners only two years after yoga had returned to the legality drew the attention of Intelligence Service – these people who were previously employees of the Security system and knew the strength and dignity of the small group of yogis before 1989, have made a fixation in considering the group of yogis, now growing from day to day – reputedly ranked about 30,000 trainees – a national danger indeed. Why? Because they could not control and manipulate them, not even when they ranked dozens. They could not even scare or intimidate them.
The first press campaign against Gregorian Bivolaru and MISA took place in 1992-1993 in newspapers and magazines that were well known at the time and was funded by Security. Among them, the most notorious are Cuvântul and Romania Mare and also in Baricada and Academia Caţavencu.
In Cuvântul, Zlătescu Andrei, a young journalist with philosophical aspirations (but completely uneducated regarding the Eastern tradition) launches a series of very acidic articles against Gregorian Bivolaru. The articles are unusually poor, including grammar mistakes, incoherent ideas and suburban language, which didn’t explain at all the privilege of the editorial assignement. The column opened with a slight ideation, but then Zlătescu gives up all subtle approach and switches to a direct attack against Gregorian Bivolaru with headlines like “Bivolaru, has a cobra in his pants” (precisely quoted, with a comma between subject and predicate).
In his articles, Zlătescu pulls out of the hat some information on convictions and investigations of Gregorian Bivolaru from the Communist era – but everything in a grotesque interpretation, with lots of false details. He also referred to some police searches that were real, which raised some questions about the sources Zlătescu had used. Undoubtedly he got the information from a former Security employee involved in Bivolaru’s case. Or maybe he knew the story from his father –a Security General himself.
In that period, newspaper Romania Mare also waged an insane media campaign against Gregorian Bivolaru and the yoga courses that were growing more and more popular. In Romania Mare we always find a violent and extremist discourse of Corneliu Vadim Tudor, as well as notorious Security methods. They mostly publish, ANONYMOUSLY – purported letters from readers – with hallucinating callomny, without evidence, against the yoga school and its mentor. But in addition, Romania Mare imprudently published excerpts of statements from Gregorian Bivolaru’s Security file.
At the time. the press could not have official access to Security files! Given that no journalist bothered to study Bivolaru’s case and there was no way to reach those documents, it is quite obvious that the Security officers themselves gave to the press some documents from his file, including those manufactured evidence through which they tried to frame Gregorian Bivolaru for common law offenses.
Gabriel Andreescu, who studied Gregorian Bivolaru’s file existing in the CNSAS archives could notice that the dossier had not been consulted by any journalist, until then. The fact that all these documents reached the press shows that this was a campaign orchestrated by former torturers.
“All previous details [i.e. as mentioned in the quoted work] support the hypothesis that former Security (Securitate) officers were behind the information reaching the press through Romania Mare and Academia Caţavencu publications. It is surprising that the journalists from Academy Caţavencu borrowed the verdict of the repressive institutions during those years, and they became solidar with punitive actions of the former Security (Securitate), including the use of psychiatry for criminal purposes.
If this mentality was liable of publicists from the weekly publication under Vadim Tudor who served the former Security officers, that was absolutely not in accordance with the political philosophy of the Academia Caţavencu satirical weekly. Since 1993, even journalists working in the honorable newspapers, gave up presenting Bivolaru and MISA’s case observing the deontological principles.” [Gabriel Andreescu – “Repression of Yoga movement in the 80s”].
The outcome of the first media campaigns: Gregorian Bivolaru, a dissident of the communist regime, politicaly convicted by Security, abusively and unjustly jailed by Security is presented in post-revolutionary press as a “recidivist offender”. The way the media and the Romanian society accepted this discourse, which also indicates a hallucinating reversed order of values, shows the immaturity of Romania’s democracy as well as people’s and state institutions’ lack of education.
Massive campaign: informers of Security and SRI officers
In 1995, 1996 and 1997 have been waged huge media campaigns in different papers, such as: Jurnalul Național, Ziua, România Liberă, Evenimentul Zilei and Libertatea. We may not analyse all these, due to limited conditions, so that we will only point out few elements that prove the involvement of the Intelligence Service.
At that time, there had been already published with big fuss, different Security documents related to Gregorian Bivolaru, including the forged evidence through which they ment but failed to set up criminal offenses to him.
Media had published personal photos of the yogis, confiscated by the Security, which were obsessively used by the press, such as black and white pictures of the yogi, snapped at the seaside, on the beach and other photos of Gregorian Bivolaru. Among these, there were some faked photos that were supposed to set up the criminal offense of “group sex” – although the fake photos did not sample any “group sex”. This kind of pictures and even other images with naked women (from other sources) have been obsessively published in association with columns about Gregorian Bivolaru and MISA. The prevailing strategy was already outlined with this sexual tint of the stated accusations.
A “key-role” in that period was played by the paper Ziua, whose head editor Sorin Roșca Stănescu like Gelu Voican Voiculescu, invited Gregorian Bivolaru to join the masonry. And again, Gregorian Bivolaru declined. Moreover, he published a volume Tremenduous disclosing about the satanic sect of Freemasonry. This triggered a new wave of press campaign.
Sorin Roșca Stănescu not only was he a freemason, but also a SRI officer. Under his direction, only in the first three months in 1995, the newspaper Ziua issued more than 30 extended articles in an extremely violent and fierce campaign against yoga practictioners and particularly against MISA mentor. However, the inventivenss of the Ziua journalists who published daily materials on one or even two pages is not supported nor by quality, or by evidences. However, it stands out clearly that it is all about a strategy, a conducted attack, which aimed – explicitly – to wipe off the yoga school.
We will analyse the other campaigns in different columns and we will point out the doubtful connexions of the editors to the Intelligence Services. To set another exemple: in Libertatea, there was a copious editor, Valentin Zaschievici – himself recently disclosed as a SRI informer. In 1995, he was writing poisoning articles, certainly of “Security” inspiration against Gregorian Bivolaru.
All papers who criticized Gregorian Bivolaru (actually writing filthy texts about him) proved sympathetic in another perspective: they never granted him the right to reply. Although they never had editorial space for the calumniated yogis’ point of view, they granted editorial space to another familiar character Mario Sorin Vasilescu. A key figure of the securist propaganda against Gregorian Bivolaru, paid to write against the traditional yoga practice, Mario Sorin Vasilescu continued his activity, in a fecund and disciplined manner following the same direction given by the Intelligence Service.
To paraphrase Gabriel Andreescu, who was writing in 1993 that all the media in Romania gave up treating the case of MISA according to the journalist deontology, we may state that since 1995, in Romania, mass-media completely lost sense of reality in the case of MISA.
The press had already built up this parallel, distorted and abherrant reality about MISA and Gregorian Bivolaru, and even the most intelligent and respectable journalists gave up questioning the slightest thing about MISA. The truth has been completely blurred by the fibs of the media campaigns meant to disparage the yogi movement. It took that the abuses in the case of MISA and Gregorian Bivolaru mount to violence and involve the state highest authorities before some journalists began to ask themselves questions about this case.
Here is a brief of the ten crushing proofs that intelligence services were the origin of the disparagement campaign against Gregorian Bivolaru in Romanian mass-media
Proof no. 1. Mario Sorin Vasilescu was paid by the Security to write such propaganda articles against traditional yoga practice since 1980’s.
Proof no. 2. First attack against Gregorian Bivolaru is an article published in Europa, a magazine founded by Security officers in 1990.
Proof no. 3. Gelu Voican Voiculescu’s participation in the press attacks against Gregorian Bivolaru in 1990’s points to a connection to the post-revolutionary Intelligence Service.
Proof no 4. Columns published in Cuvântul in 1992, written by the son of a Security officer, contain informations that had not been published before (including the address of Gregorian Bivolaru) about the Security investigations.
Proof no. 5. The campaign from the paper România Mare in 1993 is conceived by all disparagement “rules” from communist times: anonymous letters, public stigmatization, false testimonies. Cherry on top: the nationalist-populist discourse of Corneliu Vadim Tudor.
Proof no. 6. Publishing of some documents from Gregorian Bivolaru’s Security file, in papers and magazine controlled by the SRI, whereas no journalist had gained previous access to the file.
Proof no. 7. The referred publications speculated the scenarios through which the Security tried to file common criminal offense against Gregorian Bivolaru, and nobody outlined that since Gregorian Bivolaru had been persecuted by Security in communist times, he should be considered a disident and a hero, and by no means a criminal offender!
Proof no. 8. The press campaigns in the paper Ziua directed by SRI colonel Sorin Roșca Stănescu, and the impressive editorial space reserved to the columns that disparaged MISA. These columns are part of a subversive campaign that aimed to wipe off the school.
Proof no. 9. The columns from Libertatea signed by the SRI informer Valentin Zaschievici display personal photos confiscated by the Security from the yogis.
Proof no. 10. Mario Sorin Vasilescu, the same who may be considered the forerunner of the anti-yoga campaign in communist times, had a very important role in different periods of the anti-MISA campaign, after 1990, in the same direction that had been set by the Security in 1980s.