Alia, Ramiz, 1925–2011, Albanian politician. He fought with Communist guerrillas in World War II and joined (1943) the Communist party, becoming an officer and political commisar. Under Enver Hoxha, he was (1955–58) minister of education and culture and became (1961) a Politburo member. Responsible for enforcing rigid ideological and cultural norms and carrying out purges, Alia became president in 1982 and, after Hoxha's death (1985), party leader. He subsequently cautiously introduced social, economic, and political reforms, moving Albania toward democracy. He resigned in 1992 after the opposition won the election. Convicted of corruption in 1994, he served a year in prison. Arrested (1996) for genocide, he escaped amid unrest in 1997; the charges were dropped later that year.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.