Over 450 people, including 35 gendarmes, injured in clashes at Friday night rally in Bucharest
PROTESTS President Klaus Iohannis Saturday asked the Prosecutor General of Romania Augustin Lazăr to immediately initiate investigations into the intervention of riot police at Friday night’s protests in Victoriei Square in Bucharest, the Presidency announced in a news release. The head of state requested the Prosecutor General to identify the participants in the violent clashes in the Romanian capital city and their involvement and responsibility for the events. On Friday President Klaus Iohannis had firmly condemned the brutal police intervention against the protesters in Victoriei Square and said the Interior Minister, Carmen Dan, must immediately present explanations for how the ministry handled the events. Over 450 people, including 35 gendarmes, received medical treatment further to the clashes on Friday night at the rally in Victoriei Square, a gendarme spokesperson told a press conference on Saturday. According to him, riot police had orders from the Prefect of Bucharest to take tough action in Victoriei Square on Friday night. The gendarme spokesman added that 8 criminal cases have been initiated so far. Some 100,000 people gathered on Friday in front of the Government headquarters in Bucharest, at a rally of Romanian expats, joined by many locals. Also on Friday, in several cities in the country, tens of thousands of people took to the streets to voice their solidarity with the protest of diaspora members, shouting anti-government slogans. The protesters, disgruntled with the current government formed by the Social Democratic Party and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats, demanded the resignation of the cabinet and early elections. There were clashes between the protesters and the gendarmes, and riot police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd. Police reported the presence of groups of provocateurs in front of the Government headquarters. The gendarmes moved in after some of their colleagues were attacked.
REACTIONS Save Romania Union, in opposition, demands the resignation of the Interior Minister, of the Gendarme Service chief, of the Bucharest Prefect, a parliamentary inquiry and a special government meeting to clarify the gendarme intervention during Friday’s protests of Romanian expats, the party president Dan Barna announced on Saturday. Also in opposition, the People’s Movement Party labels the intervention of riot police as “outrageous,” “unjustified,” and the gendarmes measures as “unprecedented and out of proportion.” Codrin Ştefănescu, the secretary general of the Social Democratic Party in power, said on Saturday that President Klaus Iohannis and the leaders of the National Liberal Party, Save Romania Union and People’s Movement Party in opposition should present public apologies for how their statements encouraged violence. The vice-president of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats, Deputy Andrei Gerea, claims the violent clashes that took place on Friday night in front of the Government headquarters are the result of an instigation and misinformation campaign run over the past few days by the opposition and the President of the country.
ECHOES International media covered Friday’s protests in Romania and the violence in Victoriei Square. “Hundreds injured in protests as emigrants return to fight corruption,” writes The Guardian, while The New York Times notes that “Violence erupts as tens of thousands protest corruption in Romania”. Tear gas and water cannons to disperse diaspora rally, France Presse reports, and Radio Free Europe reports that hundreds were injured during clashes between the police and protesters. Associated Press writes that the Romanian diaspora organised a massive anti-governmental protest in Bucharest and mentions that the rally was marred by violence.
FESTIVAL The 8th Summer Well alternative music festival continues until Sunday in Buftea, near Bucharest. This year as well popular names in the international music scene are taking part, including the British indie rock band Bastille, the Irish alternative rock outfit, for the first time in Romania, and the American jungle pop duo Sofi Tukker. The line-up also includes Lantern Company, from Liverpool, who brought to Bucharest illuminated installations in a breath-taking performance.
TENNIS The Romanian Simona Halep, number 1 in the world, is playing today against the Australian Ashleigh Barty (16 WTA), in the semi-finals of the WTA tournament in Montreal, which has 2.8 million US dollars in total prize money. On Friday in the quarterfinals Halep defeated the French Caroline Garcia (6 WTA), while Barty outplayed Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands (18 WTA). Simona Halep is playing the Rogers Cup semis for the 4th consecutive time. Last year, when the tournament took place in Toronto, Halep lost the semi-final to Elina Svitolina. The Romanian won the tournament in 2016, in Montreal, against Madison Keys, after having lost the 2015 final to the Swiss Belinda Bencic.
(translated by: Ana-Maria Popescu)