THE CURTAIN RISES: EASTERN EUROPE, 1989 : VOICES : 'Protect the People From (No) Crime'

Gabriel Paislaru, 38, is a translator and a journalist for the Romanian state news agency, Agerpres. Part of his job is guiding English-speaking foreign journalists around the country.

Paislaru is a devoted believer in the Romanian system, described in the West as a combined Byzantine dictatorship and Stalinist-model police state. He sees his country through a rosier lens.

When a visitor asks why armed police are on practically every street corner of Bucharest, Paislaru explains patiently: "They are to protect the people from crime."

"But, according to the government," responds the visitor, "there is no crime in Bucharest."

"That's why," Paislaru says.

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