Tens of thousands of people gathered in the Romanian capital Bucharest on Friday to protest corruption and what critics say to the government is much weakened in the rule of law European country. Hundreds of injured were injured when the police reacted with tear gas and water cannons.
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis criticized the cumbersome reaction of the police and called it a "brutal intervention that bears no relation to the actions of the majority of the population". 19659007] "The Ministry of the Interior urgently needs to explain how it handled today's events," the centrist leader wrote in a statement posted on Facebook. He also said that he had asked the Attorney General to investigate the legality of the riot police intervention.
In addition to the demonstrators, some police officers were also injured when demonstrators retaliated. Reuters reported that at least 400 people sought medical help and that the protests were largely organized by Romanian expats working outside the country. At least 3 million Romanians live and work abroad, but local media reported that some of them had returned home to attend the weekend demonstrations that were also taking place in other parts of the country.
The demonstrations are from the continued frustration of some Romanians with the ruling Social Democrats (PSD). According to Transparency International, Romania is one of the most corrupt countries in the European Union. The country's anti-corruption agency has prosecuted a series of corruption cases and prosecuted 713 officials in 2016 according to the Associated Press. Among them were a number of politicians, including a senator and 28 mayors.
But in July Laura Codruta Kovesi, the leading anti-corruption prosecutor, was released. Kovesi was supported by the president, but the Minister of Justice accused her of overriding and it was ultimately John, who was forced to dismiss her after a court ruling. The SDP also reportedly threatened to suspend the application if it did so.
This summer, the PSD has also conducted a judicial review, which some observers view as a threat to the rule of law in Romania. In June, a dozen countries, including the United States, warned against changing laws "that would weaken the rule of law or Romania's ability to fight crime or corruption." These amendments reached Parliament, but are now challenged by the Constitutional Court
In early 2017, Romanian protesters took to the streets in response to a decree loosening the corruption laws. It was believed to be the biggest demonstration in decades. Protests against the government and rallies they support have continued since then.
After criticizing police reaction to the Friday demonstration, Prime Minister Viorica Dancila said that John had "incited the people against the authorities," AFP said. On Twitter the Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz condemned "the violent clashes in Bucharest, where numerous demonstrators and journalists were injured."
"We expect full explanations," he wrote. At least one injured journalist worked for an Austrian news agency.
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