Romanians protest government corruption for a second straight day

Marsha Scott
August 14, 2018

Protests in Bucharest turned violent, with Euronews videos showing riot police officers beating demonstrators into the ground.

Militaru said officers were ordered by Bucharest officials to evacuate Victory Square late Friday after an hours-long protest in front of government offices that drew tens of thousands demanding the government's resignation.

"I firmly condemn riot police's brutal intervention, strongly disproportionate to the actions of the majority of people", he said.

"The interior ministry must explain urgently the way it handled tonight's events".

Many of those protesting were Romanians who have left the country to live overseas.

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

"This government is crassly incompetent and corrupt", said Mircea Campeanu, a medical auditor living in the Netherlands who drove to Romania to attend the protest.

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Police said they had acted in a proportionate way, responding to the violent behaviour of hooligans in the crowd.

Violence has broken out in Bucharest, Romania, in the protests that have rallied 30,000 to 50,000 anti-government protesters tfrom across the country.

An estimated 3 million Romanians live overseas, and some say they left because of corruption, low wages and a lack of opportunities. Reuters reported that at least 400 people sought medical attention and that the protests were organized in large part by Romanian expats working outside of the country.

Around four million people have left the country - one of the European Union's poorest - in the last 15 years, seeking a better life than that offered by Romania's average monthly wage of just 520 euros.

The head of the ruling Social Democratic Party, Liviu Dragnea, was sentenced to prison earlier this year for a case related to abuses of power, but he remains in office as the case is appealed. 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. The changes are being challenged in the Constitutional Court. Dragnea was unable to be prime minister when his party won the December 2016 parliamentary election due to a vote-rigging conviction earlier that year.

The crowd was notably thinner than on the previous two nights when tens of thousands had gathered, but many again came to express their anger, accusing the leftwing government of corruption and urging it to resign.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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