Liviu Dragnea, the leader of Romania’s ruling party – PSD, says that a campaign of “lies and misinformation” is being carried out in Romania and suggested that President Klaus Iohannis may be part of it.
Dragnea held a press conference on Thursday afternoon, together with Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu, making the first public statements after the PSD-backed Government approved an emergency ordinance to change the Criminal Code on Tuesday evening, triggering massive street protests in Romania.
The PSD leader didn’t focus on the ordinance but started by commenting on the protests on Wednesday evening and especially the violent incidents at the end of the protests in Bucharest, when a group of hooligans attacked the gendarmes guarding the Government’s headquarters.
Dragnea suggested that the people who get out to protest are misinformed and manipulated. “I too, if I had stood only in front of the TV in the last few days, without reading the Constitutional Court’s motivation, without looking over what the Government approved, would have went to the street outraged,” he said.
“Such a machinery of misinformation I have only seen at the Revolution and after the Revolution. And there have been some situations in which this professional misinformation system has been used in Romania,” he added.
He also said that any attempt to undermine the Government’s activity is an attempt to destabilize the legal order in Romania, pointing out that PSD won the elections fairly and has the legitimacy to exercise the Executive and Legislative powers, granted by the citizens.
The PSD leader also said that he respected the protesters’ right to demonstrate, but without violence. He referred to the violent incidents at the end of the protest in Bucharest on Wednesday, when a group of hooligans attacked the gendarmes. He accused President Klaus Iohannis of being “the moral author” of those acts of violence.
“I don’t think that the situation last night in Victoriei Square is what (the protesters) wanted. My request is that these people of good faith distance themselves from these groups that wanted to confiscate this protest. I don’t know whose sick mind generated the plan that led to the violent events,” Dragnea said.
He also congratulated the interior minister and the Gendarmerie for the way they handled the situation. “I understand that they have been scolded by President Iohannis, who is in our opinion the moral author of last night’s acts of violence,” he added.
Only then Dragnea referred to the emergency ordinance that sparked the protests. He started by saying that the ordinance wouldn’t stop the ongoing court action against him. He explained that he analyzed the ordinance together with his lawyers and that he would still be tried for intellectual forgery, although the instigation to abuse of office charge may be dropped.
He thus wanted to dismiss the allegations that he benefited directly from the Government’s ordinance.
As for the urgency to adopt the ordinance, Dragnea said that the changes needed to be made because the Constitutional Court asked for them. He also claimed that the ordinance didn’t “cover for corrupt people”.
The PSD leader said that many of his colleagues have asked him to allow the party’s supporters to express their support for the Government by going to the streets as well. However, he says he wouldn’t allow this. “I will not allow us to get one million people to the streets. Because this would be a fight between Romanians, which I don’t accept,” Dragnea said. However, he said his colleagues will gather signatures from the people who want to demonstrate their support for the Government.
When asked about the reactions from Romania's foreign partners to the Government's decision on justice, Dragnea said he too watched "with great attention and great concern" the common reaction of the ambassadors, but the changes had to be made, as requested by Romania's Constitutional Court. He also added that in some of the countries whose ambassadors expressed concern over the Romanian Government's decision, abuse of office is not even a criminal offence and that they will slowly understand that there is no attack on justice in Romania