PM Ponta: We will not stand by as the law is violated; the Gendarmerie officers’ actions are legal.
A road linking the county town of Vaslui to Pungesti rural town (north-east of the capital) has been blocked since early Monday at the entry to Silistea, where Chevron company has moved several pieces of equipment as it plans to start setting up the first exploration well for shale gas in the eastern Vaslui County, Agerpres reports. The gendarmes have set up guardrails and would not even let the reporters get close to the site where Chevron has kicked off the works. Riot police, gendarmes and firemen have been moved to the area. They surrounded the protesters’ camp and took them to their vans to search for their identity. Some protesters say they were beaten and shoved by the gendarmes, accusations that the Gendarmerie officials deny, as they insist they acted as per the law, given that a more than 100 crowd blocked the access of Chevron machines to the leased site.
Around 12 at noon, approximately 40 Pungesti locals who were protesting against shale gas exploration on the other side of fences put up by the Gendarmerie attempted to block the access of Chevron cars. Several protesters, including one priest, sat down in the middle of the road when they noticed Chevron company cars trying to enter the perimeter secured by the Gendarmerie. Around 80 Gendarmerie officers intervened immediately and removed the protesters from the road, while others were pushed to the side to free access to the highway. A number of Chevron company vehicles were thus able to make their way to the land on which the shale gas exploration probe will be set up. 250 Gendarmerie officers are currently deployed to Pungesti (Vaslui County), Mircea Olaru, Chief of the Romanian Gendarmerie, stated, adding that tear gas, sticks, or other such means were “never” used by Gendarmerie officers against the protesters, according to Mediafax.
Some of the locals blocked the road, while others refused to comply, Olaru pointed out. People “were lifted up” by Gendarmerie officers and taken to the police station for identification, he concluded.
Commenting on these events, Prime Minister Victor Ponta stated the Gendarmerie officials acted in full accordance with the law and he deemed law violations, regardless of the number of persons involved, unacceptable, since everyone else has to obey the law. “That is private property. Managers of Chevron have put up fences to protect private property. If it was any other person’s private property, even the land at Nana, the same actions would have been implemented if people illegally occupied a land property – state forces would have been sent to ensure the application of the law,” Ponta said.