Romania: Tens of thousands protest for second night running

Tuesday, 14 Aug, 2018

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

In return, the law enforcers scuffled with some, fired tear gas and used a water cannon. Hundreds of people including many Romanians who work in western Europe and police officers needed medical attention.

Late Friday, President Klaus Iohannis, a critic of the left-wing government, condemned "the brutal intervention of riot police". A journalist filming the rally Romania's Hotnews online news site said he was kicked and shoved by riot police.

Romania Insider reports that on Friday night, some aggressive protesters, possibly football hooligans, began clashing with police. They are urging the government to resign and call a new election.

At the moment, for medical assistance to more than 435 people.

Three journalists said they were also subjected to violence from the police.

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Local media estimated the crowd in the August 10 rally at 30,000-80,000 in Bucharest, with tens of thousands more demonstrating in other cities. 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. They sent home just under bn previous year, a lifeline for rural communities in one of the EU's least developed countries.

Romania, a former Communist bloc country, joined the European Union in 2008, but remains under a special mechanism monitoring the status of its judicial reforms and the fight against corruption.

The country's top anti-graft prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi was sacked in July, raising concern in Brussels. Those changes made it through parliament but are now being challenged in the country's constitutional court.

After winning power in 2016, the PSD attempted to decriminalize several corruption offenses through an emergency decree, leading to thousands of Romanians taking to the streets in protest and forcing the party to back down.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, whose country now holds the European Union rotating presidency, has condemned the violence, in which a cameraman for Austria's public broadcaster was also hurt. "We expect full explanations", he said on Twitter.

Austrian public broadcaster ORF said Saturday that one of its cameramen had been beaten by police while a TV presenter was shoved up against a wall.