Romanian expats stage huge anti-govt protest in Bucharest

Romanian expats stage huge anti-govt protest in Bucharest

Kerry Wise
August 14, 2018

Two nights earlier, rallies turned violent after riot police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse protesters.

They are upset at alleged moves by the ruling Social Democrat Party (PSD) to weaken the judiciary and decriminalise some low-level corruption offences.

"I firmly condemn riot police's brutal intervention, strongly disproportionate to the actions of the majority of people in the square", he said on his Facebook page.

Three journalists said they were also subjected to police violence.

They joined tens of thousands outside government headquarters in scorching temperatures, waving Romanian and European Union flags and demanding the cabinet's resignation.

In Bucharest, some protesters attempted to force their way through security lines guarding the government building.

The protesters also held a moment of silence in memory of those who died in the 1989 Revolution and several speakers accused the political system of lacking alternatives, state media reports. They sent home just under bn previous year, a lifeline for rural communities in one of the EU's least developed countries.

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An estimated 3 million Romanians live overseas, and some say they left because of corruption, low wages and a lack of opportunities. The AP said that Georgian Enache, a police spokesman, said the police pushback on Friday was "legitimate state violence" because protesters were refusing to leave despite warnings.

In 2015, Romania's prime minister - a member of the Social Democratic Party who was tried for corruption, fraud and tax evasion while he was in office - resigned after a deadly nightclub fire that was blamed in part on corruption and poor safety oversight.

In July, President Klaus Iohannis approved the dismissal of anti-corruption prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi, who had been leading corruption investigations on local and national politicians. The changes are pending Constitutional Court challenges.

On Twitter, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz condemned "the violent clashes in Bucharest where numerous demonstrators and journalists were injured". "We expect a full explanation".

Fridays protest was the largest in months, coming about 18 months after a February 2017 demonstration in Romania when a half-million people took to the streets to protest an emergency decree that decriminalized low-level corruption.

It said the tourists were returning to their hotel in the Romanian capital of Bucharest when police stopped them.