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 202017

A freezing cold rain and temperatures down to 1 degree Celsius could not prevent thousands of Romanians from taking to the streets of Bucharest Sunday evening to protest against corruption for the 20th consecutive day.

Romanians protesting in cold misty rain in Bucharest (pic: Hotnews.ro)

The Romanian anti-graft rallies kicked off on 31th of January when former Minister of Justice Florin Iordache issued a controversial decree decriminalizing corruption offences worth less than €44,000 in damages. The subsequent public outcry triggered Iordache’s resignation and the repeal of the corruption decree but did not bring the mass protests to an end.

According to local media outlet Hotnews, about 3000 people holding up flags, banners and umbrellas gathered at Victory Square to express their discontent for almost four hours against the Government led by Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu. “Day by day we are here,” people shouted. When the protest peaked at 21.00 local time, the demonstrators sang the national anthem and lighted up their mobile phones. And just like the previous evenings, they then chanted “resignation, resignation” for tens of minutes.

The freezing weather engulfed also the cities of Cluj-Napoca, Timisoara or Sibiu where people showed solitary with their country fellows in Bucharest. Bad weather was apparently no issue for those who are convinced that their voices must be heard when they cry out against endemic political graft.

Sep 232016

Romanians took to the streets to protest against country’s Parliament after lawmakers refused to suspend the parliamentary immunity of former Minister of Interior Gabriel Oprea whom DNA prosecutors accuse of abuse of power in Bogdan Gigina’s death case (SCROLL DOWN FOR VIDEO).

protest oprea senat romania

Protest against Romanian protest in downtown Bucharest (pic: Hotnews.ro)

To recall that police officer Bogdan Gigina, 28, lost his life after riding his motorcycle into a hole at road works on 20 October 2015 while clearing the route in Bucharest for Oprea’s motorcade.

The efforts of anti-corruption prosecutors to indict former UNPR leader came to a halt last Monday when 73 Senators refused to lift his immunity from prosecution.

In the following days, lawmakers’ decision sparked backlash from country’s president and various foreign embassies and caused turmoil on social sites where Romanians were called to protest publicly against Gabriel Oprea and those who put him safe from investigation.

A nation-wide wave of street protests was announced for Thursday evening when demonstrations kicked off at 18:00 in country’s largest cities such as Bucharest, Iasi, Cluj-Napoca, Timisoara, Brasov and Constanta.

Over 4000 people rallied in front of the House of the People (Palace of the Parliament) in central Bucharest where they lashed out at country’s political elite by uttering loudly dozens of anti-corruption slogans, e.g. “equality before the law”, “nobody is above the law”, “appointed to represent, not to abuse,” “parliamentarians – garbage of Romania, cancer that destroys the country “,” rats fleeing from justice “,” we want justice ” and so on, write local media outlets Antena3 and Hotnews.

The impact of the social unrest seems to have seriously scared the Romanian legislative officials who call now for another poll in Oprea’s case!!!

The first to set the tone were the Liberals (PNL) who stepped up in early morning of September 22 to demand a new voting process: “National Liberal Party will ask the Senate to repeat the vote concerning the prosecution request in Oprea’s case. We urge PSD’s condemned President Liviu Dragnea, who steadily denies the massive protection vote given by PSD-ALDE-PRU in favor of Gabriel Oprea, to agree with this proposal,” said the liberals in a statement, adding that “all PNL senators wish the criminal investigation to be continued.”

Of course, the liberal call could not remain unanswered and consequently the social-democrat camp response was voiced by Dragnea who said that the party accept the voting challenge. PSD leader argued that his senators who voted “against prosecutors request” in the first round will not be punished, however, in the event of a new vote, he will present at the Senate chamber to monitor the situation and make sure that everything goes as intended.

Video: Senate Vote Outraged Romanians, Trigger Protests in Bucharest (22-09-2016)

Video: Demonstrations against Romanian Senate over Oprea case

Video: Romanian MPs sneaking out by the back exit @ Parliament Building

Nov 052015

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis revealed on Thursday that he appointed the Minister of Education Sorin Cîmpeanu as country’s interim Prime Minister.

Thus Mr. Cimpeanu replaces former premier Victor Ponta, who announced his resignation on Wednesday following a wave of recent protests against a fire incident that killed 32 people and left more than a hundred with severe burns at Bucharest’s nighclub “Colectiv” Friday night.

Interim PM of Romania, Sorin Cimpeanu (pic: gov.ro)

Interim PM of Romania, Sorin Cimpeanu (pic: gov.ro)

Sorin Cîmpeanu was the Minister of Education in Victor Ponta’s government and his appointment for the new position was presented during a press conference held at the Cotroceni Palace by President Iohannis. “I accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Ponta and I decided today (Thursday) to appoint Minister Sorin Cîmpeanu to the position of temporary Prime Minister. I signed both decrees,” said Klaus Johannis.

In addition, the President announced that he would take into consideration also the voice of the “street” so that representatives of the civil society are asked to come for consultations next Friday.

Who is Sorin Cîmpeanu?
Sorin Câmpeanu has been the Minister of Education and Research in Ponta’s government which resigned yesterday.

47-year-old Cîmpeanu has been running the University of Agronomy since March 2012. The same year he became also the general secretary of the National Council for Attesting Titles, Diplomas and Certificates.

He graduated from the National College St. Sava in 1986 and the University of Agronomic Sciences and Veterinary Medicine – Faculty of Land reclamation and Environmental Engineering in 1991, claiming also his doctorate in 2000.

After graduation, he worked for one year as a design engineer at the Institute for Studies and land improvements. In the period 2000-2003 Cimpeanu was a coordinating expert in the Ministry of Education and Research – National Center for the European Program Leonardo da Vinci, and a year later he became an expert in the same Ministry at the National Agency for partnership between universities and the socio – economic environment (APART).

Campeanu was the director of Irrifrance Roumanie from 2005 to 2008 as well as the vice president of the Center of Excellence in Research – BIOTEHNOL.

Between 2004 and 2008 he served as dean of the Agricultural University – Faculty of Land Reclamation, where, since 1992, has held all teaching positions from the junior to full professor. Cîmpeanu is also the vice president of the Romanian National Committee for International Hydrological Programme.

Sep 152013

Romanian media reveal that nearly 15,000 people rallied at the University Square in Bucharest in protests against the controversial mining project in Rosia Montana.

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Large crowd rallied in Bucharest, Romania to protest against mining project Rosia Montana (Credit: Facebook/Vlad Ursulean)

About 2,000 people reportedly left the university square and went marching along the Brătianu Boulevard blocking the road traffic. The massive group of demonstrators is led by parents pushing strollers with children, and behind them the first row of protesters hold a giant banner.

The people chant various slogans such as “Rosia Montana is not for sale”, “United, we will save Rosia Montana” and carry banners that read “Fate of Rosia Montana = Fate of Romania”, “I’ll tie myself with 24 karat chains”, ” Victoraş (i.e., name of Romanian PM)! Take care of the child … Gabriel”, “We love nature / Cherish culture / Respect bible / Save Rosia Montana”, “We do not want Chevron, neither RMGC, we want to be left alone”, “We do not wish to get poisoned on our Romanian land”.

The marching route includes Blvd Ion C. Brătianu – Unirii – Blvd Nerva Traian – Văcăreşti – Blvd Tineretului – Blvd Dimitrie Cantemir, with return to the University Square.

The crowd started to gather at the University fountain as of 17.00 hrs, bringing flags, banners and posting messages against cyanide mining and shale gas exploitation.

Also a “charity box” with the mesage “we want to buy our own politicians” was seen around.

Similar protests are announced to take place on Sunday, September 15 in several cities, such as Iasi, Alba -Iulia, Suceava, Constanta, Craiova, Buzau, Cluj- Napoca, Timisoara, Targu Mures, Brasov and Sibiu.

Some other protests are scheduled abroad in various cities like London, Amsterdam, Paris, New York, Berlin, Vienna, Budapest, Barcelona, Milan or Prague.

It is reported that the 33 miners who were on a strike quit their protest after Prime Minister Victor Ponta made his arrival at Rosia Montana and convinced them to leave the underground and come to the surface.

Sep 122013

Although the license issued by the Romanian Government in 1999 for the Rosia Montana gold mining project is still labeled as “CONFIDENTIAL”, Prime Minister Victor Ponta decided to “declassify” some matters of public interest . Ponta says the Parliament will vote on the project soon, expressing the wish that the political decision “will be preceded by a serious debate and not vice versa.”

Romania Rosia Montana

Rosia Montana RMGC mining project expected to be cancelled after Romanian autumn social protests (Credit: Gabriel Resources LTD)

Prime Minister Victor Ponta and the Minister for Infrastructure Projects and Foreign Investments, Dan Sova presented some aspects of the documents related to the mining project in Rosia Montana.

In relation to the bill sent to the Parliament: the exploitation license issued by the Government in 1999 and transferred to Rosia Montana Gold Corporation in 2000 has the secrecy level “CONFIDENTIAL”. Based on court decisions, it was irrevocably rejected the request to disclose info on the mining licenses, but I believe and take responsibility, that certain aspects of public interest can be published without violating the confidentiality and court decisions, said Ponta adding that:

According to article 4.1, the duration of the license is 20 years , from 1999 to 2019.

According to art. 10 the exploiter pays to the state budget a royalty of 2% of the value of the mining production, renegotiated recently to 6%.

According to art. 18, disputes arising from this license shall be settled by the International Arbitrary Center of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber in Vienna , according to its rules of arbitration.

Art. 20 – if not otherwise specified in this license , the information will be kept confidential and will not be disclosed without the prior written consent of the other party.

I was asked what the financial consequences for possible cancellation of the project and based on the rejection of the law, it is very clear that the project will not be approved.

I have official and detailed information about the development, environmental and infrastructure investments carried out by the company between 1997 and 2012. They are estimated at approx. 550 million euros.

To the extent that the project is not done, Romania is obliged to pay greening the area. Romanian State should pay and decontaminate the area. (…) Overall, around 480-500 million euros are needed. Under the plan’s business , Romania’s revenues from the project would have been estimated at 3.6 billion euros , but such revenues can not be ranked as loses because they do not exist yet. But the company would have claimed revenues of 2.7 billion dollars. In case of a legal dispute against the Romanian state, the government will take defending measures. We will try to defend ourselves before international courts not to pay these damages, but there is a potential danger, concluded Ponta.

Jan 152012

The situation escalated on Sunday evening at Bucharest’s University Square (Piata Universitatii), where demonstrators threw firecrackers towards law enforcement forces. The traffic along Magheru Boulevard was stopped. One of the protesters was engulfed in fire for a few moments before the flames were put out. The riot police fight back with tear gas. A policeman was wounded. (scroll down for video and photos)

UPDATE: The protest at University Square started peacefully Sunday at noon but became violent after 6-7 p.m. when people broke fences, took to the avenue and some of them threw rocks and pieces of pavement at the riot police, one officer reportedly being hurt. University Square demonstrators broke the barriers set by gendarmes and rushed along the boulevard, in order to occupy the Square. Road traffic was blocked as the incidents broke out in front of the National Theatre in Bucharest.

Some protesters were seen hurling burning torches, stones and other blunt objects. One gendarme suffered head injuries. As demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails, one person caught fire but was apparently saved by the people around.

Social ravage at University Square in Bucharest as Romania entered third day of protests. Photo:mediafax.ro

Romanian revolt initially sparked as a support for former Health State Secretary Raed Arafat who resigned after disagreeing on the country’s healthcare reform.

However the situation is different now because the message has changed and the complaints are mainly related to social and economic problems.

The action for support of Raed Arafat was initiated on the social network Facebook. It transformed subsequently in nation wide protests against President Traian Basescu, Boc Government and Romanian politicians.

Raed Arafat of Syrian origins is pretty popular in Romania as he has implemented and developed the country’s emergency medical service, called Smurd, in the past 20 years.

Gendarmes engage in stadoff with violent protesters in Bucharest

Video: Romania turmoil: Revolution-like protests turn violent downtown Bucharest