Romania’s president asks Interior Ministry for clarifications on outcome of last night’s protests
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis asked the Interior Affairs Ministry (MAI) for “written and clear” clarifications about how “violent elements” were allowed to destroy a peaceful manifestation last night, Mediafax reports.
Last night's Bucharest protest, which gathered some 120,000-150,000 people in the capital’s Victoriei Square to show disapproval of the Government’s changes to the criminal law, ended with incidents, after a handful of hooded violent protesters started throwing firecrackers and smoke bombs at the gendarmes guarding the Government’s headquarters.
The President said the protests were “completely peaceful” up until after 22:00, when violent protesters showed up in Victoriei Square and diverted the protests.
He characterized last night’s protests, the largest Romania has seen in 25 years, as peaceful and said Romanians showed they want the rule of law. “Last night, peaceful and massive protests took place all over the country. I’m very impressed with the amplitude of these protests and with the fact that Romanians understood very well what this ordinances changing the criminal laws are about, and they showed what they want: the rule of law,” the President said.
“I’m profoundly dissatisfied with the way in which the Interior Ministry managed the situation and the way in which the gendarmes acted towards this groups of instigators. Everybody, I repeat, everybody in the defense structures had the needed information. The Interior Ministry knew exactly when, where and what groups were preparing to break the protests in Victoriei Square,” President Iohannis said.
Interior Affairs Minister Carmen Dan said on the night of the protests that she had not received information that violent acts might emerge at the Wednesday night protests. Both the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) and the country’s general prosecutor issued statements saying that the Interior Ministry had been informed that “provocations would happen at the protests,” Digi24.ro reports.
The Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) said Wednesday evening that it sent information about existing intentions to divert the Bucharest protest to the Interior Ministry, to the state secretary in the Interior Ministry, to the Romanian Police IGPR, to the Gendarmerie, and to the Romanian Protection and Guard Service SPP.
In his turn, Romania’s general prosecutor Augustin Lazar said today that the Interior Affairs Ministry had informed the Public Ministry on Wednesday about the risk of incidents happening at Wednesday night’s protests.
Tens of hooded violent protesters, organized in one or more groups, attacked the gendarmes guarding the Government's building with firecrackers, smoke bombs, and ice blocks. This happened while tens of thousands were still protesting peacefully in Victoriei Square. The gendarmes first unsuccesfully tried to isolate the violent protesters and then cleared out the square, after most of the peaceful protesters left.
The Gendarmerie said that it had a delayed response at last night’s protests in order to protect the participants, Digi24.ro writes. Twenty people were detained after last night’s incidents, which left four gendarmes and three civilians wounded.
The violent protesters are believed to be ultras supporters of Dinamo Bucharest football team owned by Ionut Negoita, the brother of District 3 mayor Robert Negoita, who is a member of the Social Democratic Party (PSD). This has led to speculations that the violent protesters may have been sent to the square on purpose to divert the peaceful protests.