Protests over corruption decree grow in Romania….reports Asian Lite News
Massive anti-government protests broke out here on the streets in Romania after a decree was passed by Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu-led government that could free dozens of officials jailed for graft, a media report said on Thursday.
In what is being said as one of its largest ever anti-government protests, a crowd of at least 150,000 gathered here outside government offices late on Wednesday, as rallies were also taken out in other towns and cities, the BBC reported.
The protesters threw firecrackers and smoke bombs at police who responded with tear gas.
The leftist government, led by Grindeanu of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), passed the decree late on Tuesday, saying it was needed to ease overcrowding in prisons.
But Grindeanu’s critics say he was trying to release allies convicted of corruption.
Wednesday’s protests came hours after the EU warned Romania against “backtracking” in its efforts to beat corruption.
“The fight against corruption needs to be advanced, not undone,” said European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker. “We are following the latest developments in Romania with great concern.”
Protesters in Bucharest chanted “Resign” and “Thieves, thieves”.
“Our chances are small but it is important to fight,” said architect Gabriela Constantin.
Another protester, Nicolae Stancu, said: “We came to protect our country against criminals who tried to dismiss the rule of law in Romania; to protect our rights and interests, not their obscure interests.”
The emergency decree decriminalises several offences and makes abuse of power punishable by incarceration only if the sums involved are more than $48,000.
One immediate beneficiary would be PSD leader Liviu Dragnea, who faces charges of defrauding the state of $26,000. Others due for release include elected officials and magistrates.