Tens of thousands gathered on Saturday in Victoriei Square in Bucharest, for new anti-government protest
PROTESTS Thousands of people gathered on Saturday afternoon, for the second running day, in Victoriei Square in Bucharest, for an anti-government protest. Meanwhile, Romanian military prosecutors have initiated a criminal investigation concerning the intervention of riot police during Friday night’s rally. President Klaus Iohannis accused the Government of being irrational and acting against the interests of their own citizens. He condemned the violence occurring on the previous night in Victoriei Square, and asked the Interior Minister, Carmen Dan, to take responsibility for how the situation was handled. In response, the Interior Minister said that what happened was serious and that nobody could accuse the gendarme service for having enforced the law. PM Viorica Dăncilă requested an immediate and comprehensive report from the Romanian Intelligence Service regarding the entities that planned and instigated the violence on Friday night, and regarding the actions of the public institutions in charge with providing data and intelligence on possible intentions to highjack the protests. Some 100,000 people gathered on Friday in front of the Government headquarters in Bucharest, demanding the resignation of the cabinet and early elections. There were violent clashes between the protesters and the gendarmes, and riot police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd. The gendarmes moved in after some of their colleagues were attacked. Over 450 people, including 35 gendarmes, received medical treatment further to the clashes, and 70 people were hospitalised, of which 11 gendarmes, including a woman who was beaten and had her gun stolen. More than 30 protesters were arrested, and 8 criminal cases were opened. 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 in Bucharest, shouting anti-government slogans.
REACTIONS The Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies and president of the Social Democratic Party, Liviu Dragnea, said on Saturday that it is unacceptable to have “constitutional order attacked by organised groups, supported by the opposition and the head of state.” The vice-president of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats, Deputy Andrei Gerea, claims the violent clashes that took place on Friday night are the result of an instigation and misinformation campaign run over the past few days by the opposition and the President of the country. The head of the Democratic Union of Ethnic Hungarians in Romania, Kelemen Hunor, urges the President Klaus Iohannis to comply with his constitutional role and to mediate between the various groups within the Romanian society. In Opposition, the leader of the National Liberal Party Ludovic Orban said the brutal intervention of riot police against peaceful protesters in Victoriei Square was premeditated. Save Romania Union asked for the resignation of the Interior Minister, of the gendarme service chief, and of the Bucharest Prefect, as well as for a parliamentary inquiry and a special government meeting to “clarify” the intervention of riot police in the rally. The People’s Movement Party labels the intervention of riot police as “outrageous,” “unjustified,” and the gendarmes measures as “unprecedented and out of proportion.”
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 Kodaline, 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.
(translated by: Ana-Maria Popescu)