Romanian expats stage huge anti-govt protest in Bucharest

Romania: Violent protest leaves 440 needing medical treatment

Tens of thousands of people rallied Friday on the first day of demonstrations, which were largely organized by Romanian expatriates who came home to demonstrate en masse; some estimates put the crowd at 100,000.

The coalition government, led by the Social Democratic Party (PSD), has in the last few years approved a series of controversial measures that critics claim complicate the fight against corruption and have led to a series of mass demonstrations.

After most of the protesters dispersed, law enforcement officers had to use water cannons to extinguish fires lit by the protesters.

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis criticized the heavy-handed police response, calling it a "brutal intervention, strongly disproportionate to the actions of the majority of people".

Three journalists also said they were roughed up by police.

Protest organisers demanded the government resign over recent legislation and measures that they say are tailor-made to advance the interests of corrupt politicians.




Between 30,000 and 50,000 people, including many returning expats, turned out nationwide, media reports say.

An estimated 3 million Romanians live overseas, and some say they left because of corruption, low wages and a lack of opportunities.

According to the World Bank, up to a quarter of the Romanian population - between three and five million people - live and work overseas, sending back around $5bn (£3.9bn) to one of the EU's least developed countries. The AP said that Georgian Enache, a police spokesman, said the police pushback on Friday was "legitimate state violence" because protesters were refusing to leave despite warnings.

Thousands took part on Sunday (12 August) in the third night of protests in Bucharest against alleged government corruption, two days after a crackdown on a mass demonstration left hundreds injured. President Iohannis had been under extensive pressure from the PSD government to agree to her removal. The changes are being challenged in the Constitutional Court. There have also been long-running waves of protests against judicial reforms - at their peak drawing an estimated half a million people nationwide in February 2017. Sebastian Kurz, chancellor of Austria, which holds the European Union rotating presidency said: "We strongly condemn the violent clashes in Bucharest where numerous demonstrators and journalists were injured.

I am one of those who support this idea of making a huge PSD rally again", PSD's deputy secretary general Codrin Stefanescu said at local news television Romania TV, local Mediafax reported.

"We expect full explanations", he wrote.

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