Ceausescu, Nicolae (1918-89), president of Romania (1967-89). Born in Scornicesti, he joined (1933) the Union of Communist Youth and was imprisoned (1936; 1940) for his political activities. In post-war Communist Romania he held several party posts, becoming a member of the ruling Politburo in 1955. He succeeded Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, the Romanian Communist leader, as first secretary of the party and the effective ruler of Romania; in 1967 he also became the country's president. He promoted industrialization and pursued a foreign policy relatively independent of the Soviet Union, while keeping domestic political opponents firmly in line. During the 1980s he imposed a bitter austerity program to liquidate Romania's foreign debt, a program of forced relocation of rural population, and an extreme cult of personality, while rejecting political and economic reforms introduced in the USSR and other East European countries in the late 1980s. His brutal suppression of a demonstration for human rights in the city of Timisoara sparked widespread demonstrations against his dictatorship and the Communist party rule and turned the army against him. His attempt to flee Bucharest on December 22, 1989, with his wife Elena, herself a member of the Politburo, was unsuccessful. Captured and tried secretly, they were executed on December 25.