Jan 212018

Protest Romania 2018: A long awaited wave of protests that have been planned for months by the #Rezist community, swept over Romania and its diaspora on Saturday in retaliation to lawmakers’ obsessive desire to gain control over the judicial system.

protest romania 2018

Tens of thousands protesting in Bucharest against corruption (video capture: ProTV)

Around 100,000 people demonstrated in numerous cities across the country on January 20, although many of them had announced their intention to come along to join the rally in Bucharest and express support for the Laws of Justice, which they say, were “massacred” in the Parliament by the governing social-democrat party PSD.

The mega-protest in the Romanian capital was scheduled on Facebook, had the slogan: “All roads lead to Bucharest. The revolution of our generation” and was linked to several trendy hashtags including: #Anticorruption, #Rezist , #RuleofLaw , #CoruptiaUcide, #VaVedem, #TotiPentruJustitie, PSDciumarosie, etc. The event gathered more than 70,000 people and was organized in the form of a march starting at the University Square and heading towards Constitution Square, where the Parliament is located.

In association to Saturday’s protest, a group of people from Cluj-Napoca have engaged in a march to Bucharest – walking about 450 km- to take part in the rally and raise awareness of their message. They reached Otopeni – a suburb of Bucharest- Friday night and made it in time to the protest site.
The ruling coalition, formed of PSD and its political partners (ALDE/UDMR), have done almost nothing for most of the past year but struggle to change the rules of the Judiciary, in defiance to massive criticism that they subversively attempt to subdue it politically.

Three drafts for amending the Romanian laws of justice have been issued at a fast pace by a specially-assembled commission led by Florin Iordache, a PSD politician and former Minister of Justice who masterminded OUG13, the famed government emergency ordinance that sparked anger throughout the country in early 2017.

At that time, more than half a million people took to the streets in Romania to protest against Iordache’s controversial ordinance that aimed at helping corrupt politicians escape justice by decriminalizing corruption offences, including official misconduct in cases where the financial damage was less than 200,000 lei ($50,000).

Earlier this week, PSD dragged Romania into another political crisis after ridiculously toppling its own government for the second time in a year. Ex-Prime Minister Tudose lost support from his party colleagues and submitted his resignation with immediate effect on Monday. The next day, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe landed for first time in Romania just to figure out the country has no head of government. Fortunately, he was welcomed by country’s President Klaus Iohannis. A day later, Mr. Iohanis accepted a new proposal for prime minister by PSD – Viorica Dancila, an obscure Romanian MEP who thought Iran and Pakistan were members of the European Union.

Video: Protesters shining phone lights on corruption before Romanian Parliament

Jan 202018

Viorica Dancila, an obscure Romanian MEP who claimed during an interview that Iran and Pakistan are members of the European Union, was appointed as the country’s first female Prime Minister.

Viorica Dancila

Viorica Dancila (credit: HotNews Romania)

How did she get to the top of the country’s government? Well, it happened after the ruling social-democrat party (PSD) kicked former PM Mihai Tudose out of his office. Practically, PSD managed the stunning “performance” of overthrowing its own government for the second time in just 7 months, after they had previosly ousted Sorin Grindeanu through a motion of no confidence.

Mrs. Dancila, who was proposed by Liviu Dragnea and accepted by President Klaus Iohannis, was a member of the European Parliament mostly known for her shopping skills than the speech/language talents.

According to local media, nothing seems to qualify Viorica-Vasilica Dancila as prime minister except her obedience to the party that she belongs to.

In early 2017 she voiced her support for OUG13, a controversial emergency ordinance that aimed at decriminalizing several offences including abuse of power. The ordinance was retracted only after hundreds of thousands Romanians took to the streets in the largest protests since the fall of communism.

Furthermore, Viorica Dancila appears to be convinced that countries such as Iran and Pakistan are members of the European Union. While interviewed by a foreign reporter about the women’s rights and gender equality, Viorica said: “Of course, we try not to intervene in the internal affairs of a Member State such as Iran or Pakistan, but I think there is a need for discussion with those who are decision-makers such that women’s rights become a reality.”

Perhaps the harshest criticism comes from PSD MEP Catalin Ivan, who is completely dissatisfied with the appointment of her former colleague, Viorica Dancila, as the Head of the Government. In a message posted on his Facebook page, Mr. Ivan wrote:

“I have been working with Viorica Dancila for over eight years at the European Parliament and the only quality that would recommend her for this position is her blind obedience to Liviu Dragnea.” I still hope [her nomination] is a joke. I refuse to believe PSD is so low. I just want to make it clear that my opinion has nothing to do with the fact that she is a female PM… This is about serious incompetence”.

“I heard that the members of the National Executive Council have been lied to and presented with the European success of Mrs. Dancila, the respect she enjoys among her colleagues, etc. Discussing with many colleagues in the Parliament, I can sum up their reactions in two words: perplexity and fun,” added Ivan.

Jan 032018

A bright object could be spotted in the sky of the Romanian capital of Bucharest on Monday January, 1, at around 6:30 p.m. Although most theories pointed to a meteorite fragmentation, specialists of the European Space Agency came up with another explanation.

ufo bucharest

UFO across Bucharest sky (capture: digi24.ro)

According to ESA, the glowing trail was rather the effect of the disintegration into the atmosphere of a Chinese space station that went out of control two months ago.

Less than a week ago, similar sightings were reported in Romania, Greece, Russia and Austria. Then it was said that the bizzare appearances were caused by a missile used by China’s space agency to launch a new satellite into orbit.

Dec 262017

The President of the Republic of Moldova, Igor Dodon, discussed the possibility of a re-unification between his country and Romania in an interview for the Press Club “Social Resonance”.

igor dodon

Igor Dodon (© A.Savin, Wikimedia Commons)

“If, at some stage, someone in Chisinau decides to join Romania, Transnistria must have the right to self-determination and the establishment of its own state recognized by all. By the way, this is stipulated in the Law on the Status of Gagauzia, said Dodon, quoted by adevarul.md.

He also argued that the Transnistrian conflict could be resolved by reintegration of Transnistria into the Republic of Moldova, a process that would exclude a possible union of the Republic of Moldova with Romania.

Moldovan leaders must act “to strengthen statehood. Our country does not need to be part of Europe, NATO or Romania, but to strengthen its statehood,” said Igor Dodon.

Jul 052017

During the inauguration of a new bridge over Somes river, the Mayor of Cluj-Napoca, Emil Boc, asked the constructors to stay under the landmark as the first vehicles crossed above.

emil boc

Emil Boc (photo credit: wikimedia)

It meant to be an original way of checking the quality of the works that had been performed on the Traian bridge and this “tradition” is set be used in the future to verify the strength of similar infrastructure works.

“The constructor assumed the quality of the works and sat under the bridge when the first cars set into motion, and the bridge passed the test. Let’s hope that this bridge will last for 100 years, as the old one did for 85 years,” said the mayor.

The first driver who crossed the new bridge was awarded a diploma, a tie and a city album handed over by Mr. Boc.

The construction works on the new Traian bridge cost 6.5 million lei and started in August 2016. The bridge has four lanes, bicycle tracks and pedestrian walkways. “As of Saturday, the traffic will be open also for the public transport,” said the Mayor.

The old Traian Bridge over the Somes River was built between 1928 and 1931 and its costs amounted to 6.6 million lei at that time.

In 2013, due to its poor condition, a woman was about to fall into Somes through a hole that opened in the sidewalk.
Photo credit: By Razvan Socol [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

May 242017

A Boeing 737-800 NG (Next Generation), one of the two passenger planes acquired this month by Romanian national airline TAROM, officially entered company’s fleet with a lavish landing at Henri Coanda International Airport in Bucharest on Wednesday (May 24, 2017). Baptized “Sarmizegetusa,” the plane made an airfield flyover escorted by two RoAF F-16 military aircraft, while a broad array of politicians, diplomats and other senior officials were waiting on the ground.

tarom boeing 737-800 NG

Boeing 737-800 Next Generation joins TAROM fleet in Bucharest (screengrab youtube)

The plane, which is leased for a 10 year period, is brand new, has 189 seats, a range of about 6,000 kilometers and bears the registration number YR-BGJ. The second plane is set to enter service in the coming weeks. As for the price Tarom has to pay for the jets, the authorities say “is confidential, but at the market level”. Unofficially, however, institutional sources speak of about 350,000 euros per month for each aircraft.

Tarom agreed a deal with Air Lease Corporation for the operating lease of two 737NG, taking advantage of the fact that the two aircraft had originally been ordered by Pegasus Airlines, an order that was canceled in the meantime. This is why the two aircraft have got into possession of Tarom in record time.

According to Boeing website, “the Next Generation 737 delivers the superior reliability, fuel efficiency and high-value returns operators require in today’s competitive market. Its exceptional versatility and lower maintenance and operating costs provide a competitive edge regardless of business model or market. A competitive edge that enables profitable growth. All this plus the newest passenger cabin design in its class to ensure a flying experience that exceeds expectations.”

TAROM’s fleet now numbers 21 aircraft, of which only 19 operate simultaneously due to maintenance operations. The acquisition of the 737NGs aims at replacing the two Airbus A310s whose withdrawal from service last year forced Tarom to stop operating several routes.

Warm welcome to Otopeni for Tarom Boeing 737-800 NG
“Sarmizegetusa” touched down at Otopeni after flying over the airport flanked by two F-16 of the Romanian Air Force RoAF.

A whole range of local political figures including Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu, PSD leader Liviu Dragnea, Transport Minister Razvan Cuc, Interior Minister Carmen Dan, Tarom Director Eugen Davidoiu, were waiting on the tarmac for the “festive” moment.

Video: TAROM Boeing 737-800NG “Sarmizegetusa” arrives in Romania

Feb 272017

About 5,000 Romanians have created the European Union flag during an anti-Government protest at the Victory Square in central Bucharest on Sunday.

romanian protests eu flag

Creative Romanians form EU flag at anti-graft rally in Bucharest (screengrab Digi24)

The crowd marked the 27th consecutive day (& night) of rallies since January 31 when Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu’s cabinet passed the controversial emergency decree decriminalizing the corruption offences. The decree was meanwhile retracted under the street pressure but people are still staging protest as they lost confidence in country’s government.

The demonstrators have created a giant flag of the European Union using blue & yellow-colored paper illuminated from beneath by flashlights of their mobile phones. They chanted “Europe!” and sang the national anthem while carrying pins with the emblematic hashtag label “#Rezist”.

“Tonight we are sending out a message to Europe. We are pro-European Union and the Union must be with us,” said a participant. Another protester said he joined the rallies for the 16th night and “certainly won’t be the last one”, he assured.

Hundreds of people gathered also in other major cities across the country including Cluj-Napoca, Timisoara, Brasov and Sibiu to express solidarity with their country fellows in Bucharest. They shouted various slogans such as “Justice! No corruption”,”We don’t give up!”, “Resignation!”, “You thieves” and “This crooked government must leave”.

When it comes to anti-graft protests, Romanians seem to develop a strong culture and creativity as they previously formed also the country’s tricolor flag during a massive gathering earlier this month.

According to Reuters, Transparency International ranks Romania among the EU’s most corrupt countries and Brussels keeps its justice system under a special monitoring system called MCV. The EU has praised prosecutors and magistrates for their struggle to crack down on corruption, but has noted a trend in parliament to weaken the anti-graft law.

Video: Romanians form EU flag at anti-government rally in Bucharest

Feb 122017

Anti-government protests entered the thirteenth straight day since Romania’s government adopted the emergency ordinance OUG 13 on January 31. Despite the resignation of Justice Minister Florin Iordache and the repeal of the controversial bill, people still continue to take to the streets of Bucharest and many other cities across the country.

romanian protests

Romanian protesters form a huge tricolor flag (photo credit: Dan Mihai Balanescu)

The demonstrators made use of colored paper sheets and cell phone lights to form a red-yellow-blue stunning display resembling the Romanian flag across the Victory Square (see photo).

The number of people gathered in front of the Government building is estimated at 50,000 to 60,000, according to local news outlets Hotnews and Digi24.

In addition, 14,000 are protesting in Cluj-Napoca, 10,000 in Sibiu, 3,000 in Iasi and 3,000 in Timisoara.

Romanian Protests!
A decision to decriminalise various corruption offences and pardon sentenced offenders triggered a tsunami of protests throughout Romania, the largest since the collapse of communism in December 1989.

Romania’s justice minister has stepped down following the street turmoil. Florin Iordache was one of the masterminds behind an emergency decree passed stealthily by the government on 31 January at midnight.

The government led by Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu, argued that the decree and another draft bill on jail pardons were necessary to mitigate prison overcrowding and bring the criminal code into line with recent constitutional court rulings. However, the Romanians believed the government is not credible as its proposal would set back the nation’s anti-graft fight and hundreds of thousands of people rushed into the streets to express disapproval.

Video: Choreographed protest in Bucharest, Romania

Photo credit: Dan Mihai Balanescu – Facebook.

Feb 082017

BBC made use of Facebook’s live streaming video service to reveal the anti-government protests at Victoria Square in Bucharest Wednesday evening. Despite Romanian Government’s decision to revoke a contentious emergency decree decriminalizing corruption offences, the protests are still going ahead. The demonstrators are now concerned about the reliability of the new legislation proposed by the Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu.

bbc livestream romanian protests

BBC broadcast Romanian protests live on Facebook (photo: Dan Mihai Balanescu)

Early in the day, the government survived a no-confidence motion initiated by the parliamentary opposition following the mass turmoil that led to the repeal of ordinance OUG 13 slammed for watering down the anti-corruption legislation, reports BBC News. Lawmakers from the three ruling parties refrained from voting.

Larger protests are expected to take place next weekend. The attendees said the current government has proven it can not be trusted. They also fear that the new legislation, announced by Sorin Grindeanu before repealing the corruption ordinance, may contain the same elements but in different form.

The scandalous decree OUG13, which aimed at decriminalizing abuse-of-power offenses involving amounts up to 38,000 pounds (44,000 euros), caused the largest protests since the fall of communism in Romania, back in 1989.

Feb 072017

The frontman of rock band “System of a Down”, Serj Tankian, congratulated the Romanian protesters who took to the streets for more than a week to support justice and fight against corruption, noting that the Romanians are currently a “source of inspiration” for those who “struggle against unjust laws.”

Serj Tankian

Serj Tankian (pic: wikimedia commons)

In a Facebook message posted Saturday night, the lead singer shared an Al Jazeera article revealing the decision of the Romanian Government to repeal a controversial emergency ordinance that decriminalized corruption offences, with the following caption: “This is how battles are won against unjust laws. Congratulations to the people of Romania!” The posting was distributed more than 4,000 times on world’s largest social network.

In response to the numerous positive feedback he received for his support message, Tankian wrote: “Just want to say thanks for the amazing response from Romania on this site! I know there are still things to resolve and you have more work to do. Just wanted to say that it’s inspiring.”

According to Wikipedia, Serj Tankian (born August 21, 1967) is a Lebanese-born Armenian-American singer-songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, poet, and political activist. He is best known as the lead vocalist, songwriter, keyboardist, and occasional live rhythm guitarist of the rock band System of a Down, formed in 1994 by four Armenian-American friends.

Romania made history with largest anti-graft protests since 1989 Revolution
Hundreds of thousand Romanians have stormed the streets for 7 straight days (but protests are still ongoing) in retaliation to a contentious emergency decree that was rushed through by Minister of Justice Florin Iordache on 31 January, and would have allowed the release of dozens of convicted public officials from jails.

Hereunder you can see the breathtaking moment when more than quarter a million people shone their cell phone lights on corruption law at Victoria Square in central Bucharest!!!