Up to half a million Romanian protesters took the streets of Bucharest and other towns and cities yesterday, demanding a resignation of the government, which is led by the Socialists. In Sofia, a crowd of about 70 people staged a solidarity event in front of the Romanian embassy.
A move by the Bucharest government, which was designed to end the protests, which have been going on for six days in a row, failed.
The protests in all parts of Romania started right after the government had passed a controversial decree, which effectively decriminalized certain abuse-of-power offences by politicians. Even though Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu revoked that decree on Sunday, the protests continued with even more participants.
In Bucharest, protesters sang the national anthem, in Timisoara and other cities, they prayed. While 250,000 inhabitants took part in the Bucharest protests, tens of thousands turned up in 20 more towns.
Around 70 participants were part of a solidarity event in front of the Romanian embassy in the Bulgarian capital Sofia on Sunday evening. The organizers said, if Romania took a step backward in the fight against corruption, that would be a bad sign for Bulgaria as well.
The decree, which was passed and then retracted by the Bucharest government, would have given politicians a “get-out-of-jail-for-free-card” for corruption offences involving sums of less than 200,000 Lei, the equivalent of 44,000 Euro. The decree would have helped the chairman of the Socialist Party, Liviu Dragena, who is standing trial due to an offence of this kind.
Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis took the side of the protesters. He said, the government had made grave mistakes and had to resolve the crisis it had caused. According to Iohannis, the protesters have legitimate demands.
Bucharest photo by Alejandro Ilukewitsch.
Sofia photo by Plamen Petrov.