Late Thursday, protesters blocked the official’s car access to the road and smashed the rear wipers, but the minister managed to escape thanks to law enforcement officers.
Daniel Barbu, Minister of Culture, was taking part in a cultural debate at Club A in the historical center of the capital city late Thursday when several dozen protesters against Rosia Montana started to boo him. The demonstrators interrupted the debate by wrapping banners around Barbu and throwing fake banknotes with his portrait at him. The minister was then handed a bag of coins and asked ‘How much money did you get?’ after which they asked him to resign. The debate was concluded as the minister decided to leave. Outside, the protesters blocked the official’s car access to the road and smashed the rear wipers, but the minister managed to escape thanks to law enforcement officers who arrived immediately at the scene.
On its own initiative, the Bucharest Police Department opened an investigation for public indecency in this case and protesters with violent behavior are to be identified through the surveillance footage of nearby cameras. “Regarding the infraction of property damage, investigations can only be performed if the owner of the damaged vehicle presses charges,” police officials cited by Mediafax have stated.
According to Emilia Mihai, spokeswoman for the Bucharest Police Department, the man responsible for smashing the rear wipers of the Minister of Culture’s car and another person were questioned late Thursday at the Tenth Police Precinct, after several police officers found them in the vicinity of the incident. The Minister of Culture’s car driver was also questioned late Thursday. Seven other persons involved in the incident were also scheduled to be subpoenaed and questioned by the police. According to investigators, the rear wipers of the car transporting Minister Daniel Barbu were smashed by one person, who climbed on top of the vehicle and broke the glass with his fists. Mihai also said that the deeds committed by the persons who assaulted the Minister of Culture have not been legally classified, but the charges are to be established together with prosecutors.
Barbu, guarded by SPP
Daniel Barbu has announced that, starting Friday, he has been protected by a SPP (Protection and Guard Service) team because following the incident on Friday evening he felt “he was in danger.” “Unfortunately, it (e.n. being protected by an SPP team) seems to be necessary,” Barbu stated, adding that he did not press charges. The Prosecutor’s Office attached to the Third District Court has opened a criminal investigation for public indecency and disturbance of peace.
Ponta wants an intervention “without reservations” on violent protesters
Referring to the incident on Thursday evening involving Minister Barbu, President Traian Basescu stated Friday that such behavior “should not be tolerated” and blocking any citizen’s car access is against the law.
Prime Minister Victor Ponta informed the Minister of Internal Affairs that he gives law enforcement representatives the green line to act “without reservations” if protests escalate “beyond the red line” and are in danger of turning into violence and threats, adding that Romania cannot go back to a time when “legionaries ruled the country.” “As long as the protests were peaceful, the elegant behavior of law enforcement officials was appropriate, but when the red line is crossed and we are talking about violence, threats, and road blocks, I give you the green line to intervene in accordance with the law,” Ponta said to Stroe at the government session. The prime minister continued by saying that he wants to send a very clear message that democracy is not the same as anarchy. During a later visit in Brasov on the occasion of the TSD Congress, Ponta reiterated that he is not against protests as long as they are peaceful, but he emphasized he will not stand still “if the disputes turn violent.”: “I don’t believe anyone in their right mind can agree to solving problems through violence.” He pointed out that he was aware of an extremist group in the vicinity of Rosia Montana, in Campeni, who promotes violence, but that measures will be taken to prevent the spread of extremist and violent manifestations. In turn, PNL chairman Crin Antonescu stated in connection with the incident involving the Minister of Culture there was no justification for violence and expressed hope that the law would take effect in this case. “It is unacceptable, not because he is a minister or a Liberal. I have understood and supported the idea of demonstrating and protesting as a form of defending one’s convictions, regardless whether I myself share the same convictions with the protesters. However, there is a limit for everything, and that is the limit of civilization, peaceful cohabitation and of the law,” Antonescu commented.
Regarding the Rosia Montana project, PNL said they have expressed their position very clearly by voting “categorically against it” in the Special Parliamentary Commission, a press release by the Liberals’ party shows.