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!!!

Feb 052017

Over half a million people across Romania protested against the socialist government for a sixth straight day. In Bucharest, nearly 300,000 protesters gathered at Victoria Square where they demand the Government to resign, informs local media outlets Digi24 and Hotnews.

bucharest protests 2017

Stunning light display at Bucharest’s protests

People took to the streets on Sunday despite Government’s decision to repeal the notorious ordinance OUG 13/2017 that was slammed for watering down country’s anti-corruption fight. Protesters say they have no confidence in Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu and now call for the resignation of his Cabinet.

New ordinance OUG14 – a possible trap due to its partly constitutional character!
Grindeanu and his Justice Minister, Florin Iordache, tried to defuse the tense situation by revoking the controversial ordinace (13) via another one (14), however, it just turned out that their new decree is engulfed in slight mistery as experts believe that it might not be entirelly…contitutional.

Emergency Ordinance no. 14, adopted today by the Government was already published in the Official Gazette and entered into force. It scraps entirely OUG 13/2017 that was issued hurriedly Tuesday night, however, it fails to bring an article of the Criminal Procedure Code in agreement with two decisions (586/2016 and 614/2016) of the Constitutional Court CCR. See more info here.

Meanwhile, the demonstrators gathered again to underline their continued objection to the decree and make clear to Grindeanu and his left-wing government, which has been in office only a month, that corruption must be rooted out.
Video: Quarter a million Romanians protesting in Bucharest

Large rally in Cluj-Napoca

Video: Stunning anti-government protest in Iasi

Romanian crowds shine cell phone lights on corruption law

Quarter a million people shining lights at Bucharest protests

Feb 052017

Romanian Government repealed an emergency ordinance that brought people en masse into the streets for nearly a week. The repealing decree was published in the “Official Gazette” and took effect immediately.

romanian protests flag 2017

Romanians forced govt. to repeal contentious corruption bill (photo: Dan Mihai Balanescu)

Ministers of Grindeanu cabinet approved the draft decree that aims at revoking the controversial ordinance OUG 13/2017 which amended the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code. Moreover, the Government approved also a memorandum for declassifying the transcripts of executive meetings that modified the penal codes in 2016 and 2017.

To note that Romanian Government had issued hastily a scandalous corruption decree on January. 31, that decriminalized the official missconduct and abuse-of-power offences in which the amounts do not exceed 200,000 lei ($48,000). The decree sparked a tsunami of mass protests for five consecutive days as people feared the measure will water down the country’s anti-corruption fight against politicians and senior officials.

As for Justice Minister Florin Iordache, government sources said that Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu asked him to make an assessment of the ministry he leads since taking office.

After Sunday’s emergency meeting of the Cabinet, everyone expected the resignations of the Justice Minister Florin Iordache, considering that the day before, Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu said he must face the consequences for failing to explain clearly OUG 13/2017 to the public.

Feb 052017

Breathtaking moment in Bucharest where more than a hundred thousand protesters sing national anthem “Wake up, Romanian!” (Desteapta-te Romane) late in the night at 10:00 o’clock sharp.

Bucharest rally Romania protest 2017

Hundred thousands Romanians fighting for democracy (photo credit: Dan Mihai Balanescu)

For five consecutive days & nights, people or Romania lashed out at Grindeanu Government’s decision to issue an emergency decree that dezincriminates official misconduct and other abuse-of-power offences worth less than 200,000 lei, i.e. €44,000 or $48,000. Practically, the controversial decree would reduce the penalties for corruption in a move which will allow numerous politicians to avoid criminal prosecution.

There were constantly over 150,000 people in Bucharest and 300,000 across the country expressing their intense desire to support rule-of-law and fight political graft.

Over half a million protesting corruption in Romania (5.Feb.2017)

Shouting “thieves,” “rats” and telling politicians “You won’t escape,” the Romanians called for the resignation of the government as they surrounded Victoria Palace in the capital.

The protests appear to have reached a resounding success Saturday evening when the PSD-led government vowed to repeal the contentious ordinance that triggered social turmoil and massive street demonstrations. However, despite Prime Minister’s annoncement, the largest rally is set to take place on Sunday when about 1 milion people are expected to join the meetings throughout Romania.

Video: 150,000 Romanians singing country’s anthem “Desteapta-te romane”

Romanian national anthem @ Bucharest protests 03.Feb.2017

Feb 052017

Pro-Justice rallies have continued across Romania on Saturday, the fifth consecutive day of protests, with another record number of attendees: 170,000 people demonstrated in Bucharest and more than 330,000 throughout the country, informs local media outlet Digi24.

protest bucharest 2017

Record number of Romanians protesting in Bucharest (photo credit: Dan Mihai Balanescu)

Protesters did not take into account an earlier announcement made by Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu who said that his Government “will withdraw or postpone” the corruption decree (OUG 13) amending the Penal Code, and still chanted “Thieves!” or “Abrogate and then leave.”

The national anthem was sung at 22.00 sharp, while laser projectors animated the large crowd by beaming various emotional messages onto the walls of a nearby building at Victoria Square. The protest was peaceful without any incident and ended after 23.00 hrs, when teams of young volunteers took over the cleaning job at Victoria Square.

Record number people protesting on 6th straight day: 05/02/2017

Rallies in the capital of Romania began Saturday morning with a Children protest entitled “Education for democracy – a civic education lesson”, and attended by over 10,000 parents and children.

Later on, about 20,000 protesters marched from the Government Headquarters to the Parliament Building following the route Victoria Square – University Square – Union Square – Constitution Square. After arriving at the Palace of the Parliament, people formed a human chain around the huge building complex.

In the evening, the crowd marched back to the government HQ, where an impressive number of people, ~170,000, protested for almost four hours against the contentious graft decree that decriminalises corruption offences causing less than $48,000 of damage.

Feb 042017

After a week-long wave of massive protests, the democracy seems to prevail again in Romania. Country’s Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu said that his Government is set to meet urgently on Sunday to repeal the ordinance amending the Criminal Code.

protest bucharest 2017

5 days of massive protests against Romanian government’s decision to weaken corruption fight

In addition, Grindeanu invited all political parties to consultations, as the parliament aims at analysing a draft law whose legal framework needs to be in agreement with the Constitutional Court decisions, decisions that can not be ignored.

As for the scandalous ordinance that decriminalized official misconduct and abuse-of-power offences, the Prime Minister said that there was a communication problem which triggered a real confusion in the Romanian society. In this regard, Ministry of Justice and Minister of Justice Florin Iordache assume total responsibility. However, Grindeanu did not elaborate over this “responsability” matter.

Also Calin Tarinceanu, the head of the ALDE Party – a junior coalition partner – confirmed on private television station Romania TV, the news that Romanian government has withdrawn the contentious corruption decree, informs Euronews media service.

Meanwhile, more than 150,000 people rallied in front of Government Building at Victoria Square in central Bucharest, protesting the corruption law.

Video: Statement of Romanian PM Sorin Grindeanu

Video: 5th succesive day of protest in downtown Bucharest

Feb 042017

Did Romanian politician Liviu Dragnea say “bullshit” in the context of fighting corruption? The answer is apparently yes!

A Swiss journalist recorded Dragnea, the head of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and President of the Chamber of Deputies, during an interview in which he said “bullshit” referring to the corruption that engulfs his country.

Liviu Dragnea bullshit

Liviu Dragnea (pic: wikimedia)

As Dragnea no longer admits his words, the Swiss posted an unedited audio recording on Facebook in order to refresh lawmaker’s memory.

“Romanian colleagues tell me PSD Chief Liviu Dragnea may have publicly insinuated that Swiss Public Radio is fake news. Let’s suppose he has trouble remembering his own words. Here is the completey unedited quote of what he said at the end of our discussion about PSD, corruption and the future of Romania”, wrote Urs Bruderer on Facebook.

Liviu Dragnea saying bullshit about anti-corruption fight: Audio recording from SRF

In an article entitled “Is Romania becoming a banana republic in Europe?”, Swiss broadcaster SRF (Swiss Radio and Television) debates the emergency ordinance adopted stealthily by Grindeanu’s Government and its disastrous effects. The ordinance, which shockingly decriminalizes the official misconduct causing damage worth less than about $48,000, triggered a tsunami of ongoing protests throughout Romania.

The Swiss journalists pointed out that Liviu Dragnea – “the strong man behind the Government”- was not interested in anticorruption fight before the parliamentary elections.” The journalists noted that the PSD chief wanted to talk about Romania’s future and not about “bullshit” things such as the corruption.

They cite a statement made by Liviu Dragnea on Radio SRF right before the December 2016 elections. “I don’t like this kind of political debate, I want to discuss about the program, about the Romanian future, not this kind of “bullshit” (sorry),,,Russia, corruption,,,,I don’t know, many things”, said Dragnea during the interview.

However, Dragnea denied the revelation during a press conference last Thursday. Asked by a reporter to comment whether the anti-corruption efforts in Romania are “bullshit”, Dragnea said: “I did not say that.” But when told that he was recorded he replied. “I understand. I don’t know what they’ve done or edited (e.n.-the Swiss journalists). I cannot say such thing. I was not alone with those reporters”.

A few minutes later, journalist Cristi Citre ran the recording from the Swiss station and asked Dragnea if he recognizes his words. Even when faced with the clear proof of his voice, Dragnea still did not admit his “bullshit” statement.

“This is reminiscent of the blue pixel case. I’ve never uttered this sequence of words,” said Dragnea suggesting that the recording would have been “engineered”. But there is no one to believe him!

Photo credit: By Partidul Social Democrat from Romania (Liviu Dragnea la Consiliul National al PSD) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons