*President Iohannis asks Interior Minister and Gendarmerie to explain why they allowed violence to occur at the protest
The peaceful protests that took place in Victoriei Square on Wednesday evening turned violent after several persons threw petards, stones, blunt objects and smoke bombs at the gendarmes.
On Thursday morning, President Klaus Iohannis asked Interior Minister Carmen Dan and the Romanian Gendarmerie to explain why “violent elements were allowed to disrupt a peaceful demonstration.”
“I demand very clear clarifications from the Interior Minister and the Gendarmerie (…) into why violent elements were allowed to disrupt a peaceful demonstration,” Iohannis stated at the Cotroceni Palace.
He declared he was unsatisfied with the way the Interior Affairs Ministry (MAI) and the Romanian Gendarmerie handled the groups of “violent protesters.”
“Last night massive demonstrations and protests took place all over the country. I am very impressed by the scale of these demonstrations and by the fact that Romanians understood very well what this emergency ordinance which amends the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code is about and they pointed out very clearly what they want: rule of law. These demonstrations were eminently peaceful, Romanians gathered in large numbers and stated their grievances, this happened until 10 p.m. when a group or groups – we will know this later – of protesters entered the Victoria Square and disrupted the demonstration. It was obvious for whoever followed how the events unfolded, that Romanians protested in a very large number, peacefully, stating very clearly what they want. It was just as obvious that these violent protesters, not to call them anything else, came with the purpose of ruining the demonstration in the Victoria Square. The way the MAI didn’t handle the situation and the way in which the gendarmes handled these groups of instigators is deeply unsatisfying,” the head of state mentioned.
According to him, law enforcement bodies had all the necessary information in regards to these groups.
“At the MAI it was known exactly when, where and what groups were preparing to “break up” the demonstration in the Victoria Square. Instead of isolating them in the place they gathered, and it was known where they had gathered, they allowed them to walk freely and blend among the peaceful protesters, therefore endangering not just the demonstration, but the safety and even the life of regular Romanians who were there to peacefully protest,” Iohannis stated.
The head of state believes the fact that the Interior Minister only appeared on television and stated she did not know anything about these incidents is a very serious matter.
“It’s even worse if she didn’t know. That means she isn’t in charge of the ministry, but only sits there. This is inadmissible,” Iohannis added.
” We didn’t receive reports on potential provocation attempt”
Interior Minister Carmen Dan stated on Thursday that she did not receive intelligence reports on potential provocation attempts at the protests staged on Wednesday evening in Victoriei Square, adding that Secretary of State Viorel Stefu and Head of Police Bogdan Despescu receive text messages from a Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) officer.
“I didn’t receive reports on potential provocation attempts. (…) No novel information came from the SRI. Last evening, from 7.43 to 10.55 p.m., at the height of the protests, secretary of state Viorel Stefu and Head of Police Bogdan Despescu received text messages from a SRI office, messages referring exclusively to the possible presence at the protest of certain persons, activists who are constantly taking part in such activities, as well as the presence of football fans in general,” Dan pointed out.
According to the minister, the data received by text message did not signal risks in what concerns public disorders, the intent to hijack the demonstration and the persons concerned seeking to carry out “acts of violence, nor whether they had on them means they could have used for this purpose.”
“The information transmitted was of public notoriety, being known that a handball game between Dinamo and Steaua was taking place close to the location of the protests, with the fans of the two teams in attendance. Information about this event had already been analysed as part of an operative meeting that took place on the morning of February 1, 9 a.m., and the measures were adapted to the dynamic of the situation. (…) The fact that the Dinamo Sports Centre was hosting the Dinamo vs. Steaua handball game was of notoriety. There were 1,500 spectators at the event. After the game ended, the groups of fans dispersed, and some of them travelled individually to Victoriei Square. This made it impossible to control them and stop them from showing up at the protests, since they did not act unitarily, as an organised group,” she emphasised.
The minister pointed out she could not ask for the fans to be blocked inside the Dinamo Sports Centre, considering that their behaviour there did not break the law.
“Present there were citizens who went there to watch a sport event and to enjoy it. Blocking them [there] would have been an infringement of the law and could have had far more serious consequences. Subsequently, some fans regrouped and were identified at the fringes of Victorie Square, from where they initiated their provocative actions,” Carmen Dan said, adding that the actions of the law enforcement officers, including by way of communicating with the peaceful protesters, led, in the first stage, to the isolation and dispersal of the groups of agitators.
79 persons detained following clashes in Victoriei Square
Seventy-nine persons were taken to police precincts, following the clashes that took place in Victoriei Square on the evening of February 1, criminal dossiers for assault and disturbing the peace. One person will be investigated for carrying high-risk drugs, Interior Minister Carmen Dan pointed out on Thursday, adding that five fines were also issued.
According to the minister, eight gendarmes were injured, three of whom were taken to the Floreasca Emergency Hospital and the Emergency Ophthalmology Hospital.
At the same time, four protesters were injured, two being taken to the Floreasca Emergency Hospital, but none of the persons injured remained hospitalised.
“Investigations are being continued by a team consisting of 50 police officers coordinated by the Bucharest District 1 Court’s Prosecutor’s Office. Some persons were previously fined for breaking the law, while three of them are members of football fan groups,” Dan pointed out.
Interior Minister reveals names of journalists who “advertised the protests in Victoriei Square”
On Thursday, Interior Minister Carmen Dan revealed the names of several journalists who promoted the protest in Victoriei Square, pointing out at the same time that the home addresses of some political leaders and the personal phone numbers of the members of Government were posted on social networks.
“Yesterday, on February 1st, the protest actions were promoted through social networks, especially on the page of the ‘Corruption Kills’ group, through events titled ‘No to the pardon and amnesty law.’ On this occasion, we noticed the involvement of some public personalities, opinion makers or members of political parties, in order to support these street protests. I can give you some examples too: Mircea Marian, Ovidiu Vanghele, Robert Turcescu, Emilia Sercan, Lucian Mandruta, Nicusor Dan, Clotilde Armand, Catalin Tolontan and Andrei Gheorghe,” Interior Minister Carmen Dan stated on Thursday.
The Interior Minister added that the home addresses of some political leaders and the personal phone numbers of the members of Government were posted on social networks.
“We noticed that the home addresses of some political leaders and the personal phone numbers of the members of Government were posted on social networks, which hiked even more the pressure of the street and the degree of negative emotions. The said information was protected by the law on personal information and yet they became public. I too was one of the persons whose phones were rendered unusable because of these repeated messages and phone calls,” Carmen Dan added.
Carmen Dan added that around 200,000 persons took part in Wednesday protests all over the country, the highest turnout being registered in Bucharest, Cluj, Sibiu, Timisoara, Brasov, Iasi, Craiova, Baia Mare and Constanta.
The Interior Minister also said that protests took place in 70 localities in 39 counties. The protests were authorised in 13 cases, while in 30 others the protests took the form of protest marches.
Romanian Gendarmerie: 79 persons detained and taken to police stations after violent acts at protest
Seventy-nine persons were detained and taken to the police stations in order to establish their identity, as well the degree of implication or guilt in what regards the incidents at the protest in Victoria Square, informed a press release of the Romanian Gendarmerie on Thursday.
According to the quoted source, since last night the Romanian Gendarmerie’s special staff has been analysing the video recordings taken by police officers as well as photo-video materials received from citizens who were in the Victoria Square.
The Gendarmerie also announces that 70 public meetings took place nationwide, out of which 13 had been authorised.
Except for the events in the Capital, no other public disorder incidents were reported.
The Gendarmerie thanked all citizens who demonstrated peacefully and observed the indications of law enforcement forces, dissociating themselves from groups who acted violently.
In this context, the Romanian Gendarmerie is asking the citizens and the media, in case they captured images of people who acted violently, to send them by e-mail at email@example.com.
Gendarmerie spokesperson: Information that agitators were members of football fan groups, unconfirmed
Later that day, the Romanian Gendarmerie offered more information about the violent incidents that took place in Victoriei Square on Wednesday evening. Gendarmerie spokesperson Georgian Enache stated that 79 arrests were made, however so far those detained have not been identified as members of groups of football fans.
Enache pointed out that there was an institutional dialogue between the structure of the Interior Ministry, but also warned that unauthorised protests create a favourable context for those who have no intention of demonstrating peacefully. Likewise, the spokesperson pointed out that the institution is working on a short guide it will offer to protesters in order for similar incidents to be avoided.
“Seventy-nine persons who took part, one way or another, in the violent actions in Victoriei Square have been detained. I cannot confirm that these persons are members of groups of football fans. At this moment my colleagues are interrogating the Romanian Gendarmerie’s databases. We do not have the confirmation that the persons who caused acts of violence are members of football fans’ groups. They wore no paraphernalia and were not recognised by my colleagues as being persons with prior records. All I can say is that they are extremely violent persons who hijacked a peaceful protest. The structures of the Interior Ministry are engaged in a permanent exchange of information, however the staging of such unauthorised public events creates the premises for the appearance of such individuals. These events must be declared and that city hall permit must be obtained. Last evening, 70 public rallies were organised at national level, only 13 of them observed legal provisions and no kind of problems were registered.
“Four gendarmes required medical care. They suffered concussions after they were hit by bottles, rocks and other blunt objects. Their lives are not at risk. We will supplement our numbers in order to prevent any escalation of conflicts. It’s vital for the people in the street to distance themselves from violent persons in order to facilitate the intervention of my colleagues. We are now working on a guide we will distribute among the protesters,” Georgian Enache stated for ProSport Live.
Dinamo fans: We did not take part in the protest as a group and were not paid to do so
In a Facebook posting on Thursday, Dinamo’s fans denied any coordinated involvement in the violent events of Wednesday evening, distancing themselves from the information circulating publicly, according to which the hooligans at the protests were members of the Bucharest football clubs’ groups of fans.
“We DID NOT take part in the protest in a coordinated fashion and even more so we were not paid by someone to do so. We are disgusted and profoundly outraged by the manner in which some “journalists” choose to manipulate public opinion, broadcasting baseless information, based on simple allegations, prejudice and information leaked by all sorts of “certain” but shady and of course anonymous sources. The Romanian political class is the main culprit for the protesters’ outburst, an outburst that in fact took place on other occasions too in recent years,” reads the message posted on a Dinamo fan group.
SRI: Information on intention to hijack public protest was operatively sent
On Thursday morning, the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) mentioned that the data and the pieces of information regarding the intention to hijack the public protest in the centre of Bucharest were operatively sent to “institutions which are legally authorized to intervene to maintain public order and security.”
“In respect to the statements launched in the public space regarding the SRI informing about the protest of 1 February 2017, we make the following mentions: the SRI acted accordingly to its legal competency, the data and information acquired in regards to the intention to hijack the public protest in the centre of Bucharest being operatively sent to institutions which are legally authorized to intervene to maintain public order and security,” the SRI release mentions.
According to the quoted source, there was “an operative exchange of information” with the Interior Ministry, as well as with the Romanian Gendarmerie and the Protection and Guard Service (SPP).
“In this situation, there was an operative exchange of information, based on procedures established by each institution, with the Interior Ministry, namely with State Secretary Stefu Viorel and with Inspector General of the General Inspectorate of Romanian Police (IGPR) Bogdan Despescu, as well as with the Gendarmerie and the SPP. According to Law No.51/1991 regarding Romania’s national security, republished in 2014, and in accordance with Law No.14/1992, the SRI is authorized to acquire necessary data for preventing and counteracting extremist activities. In this field, the SRI didn’t have operational surprises. The SRI has no competency in regards to the ultras group demonstrations, but in case some data of interest for institutions with duties in the field of public order is acquired, the SRI will provide them with celerity, as it did in the case of the protests that tookplace on 1 February in Bucharest,” the SRI added.
PG Lazar: Prosecutor General’s Office received information from MAI on risk of illegal acts at protest
Romania’s Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar stated that the Prosecutor General’s Office was informed by the Ministry of Interior (MAI) regarding the risk of some illegal acts at the protest staged on Wednesday evening in front of the Government headquarters.
He was asked at the headquarters of the Superior Council of Magistracy (CSM) about the incidents on Wednesday evening at the protest in the Capital.
“Yesterday (e.n. – Wednesday) information existed, namely we had been informed by the Ministry of Interior about some risks, some illegal acts taking place during this demonstration of the civil society, but, concretely, I understood that the Ministry of Interior, through its authorized special structures, attentively watched this movement to eliminate any risk. It seems that in the end they managed to keep things under control and things did not spin out of control, as some would have wanted, however, they span out of control just enough to compromise a demonstration organised by the civil society,” Augustin Lazar specified.
Furthermore, he confirmed that there is an ongoing investigation at the Prosecutor’s Office of the District 1 Court in what regards the incidents at the protest.
PNL and PMP ask IntMin Carmen Dan to resign / Raluca Turcan: Dragnea’s resignation is vital
National Liberal Party (PNL) asks Interior minister Carmen Dan’s resignation, stated on Thursday the Interim President of the party, Raluca Turcan, asking the state institutions to clarify the manner in which MAI acted at the protests, given the concrete information that existed regarding the groups of agitators.
“PNL asks the resignation of the Interior Minister (Carmen Dan – e.n.), a minister who lied and put the lives of the citizens of this country in danger, who demonstrated that follows the party orders, that ignores serious information received from state institutions only to act according to the requirements of the main advantaged person by this approach made by the Grindeanu Government” Turcan stated.
Raluca Turcan asked the state institutions to clarify the manner in which MAI acted at the protests of the recent days.
Turcan made a call to the PSD leaders who gathered on Thursday in the National Executive Council (CEX), stating that she hopes that they will put Romania’s interest first and will not instigate to street violence.
PNL asked the Government to repeal the “shameful ordinances”, she said.
“There are 8 more days until the moment when the ordinances will come into force. (…) We urge the Grindeanu-Dragnea Government to repeal the shameful ordinances. We ask this Government not to destabilize the institutional order, not to remove vital institutions of the Romanian state from the people of good faith”.
Raluca Turcan also claimed that Liviu Dragnea’s resignation in the next days is “vital”.
“This is a message given by the thousands of people in this country”, she claimed.
Tomac: PMP asks for the urgent resignation of the IntMin Carmen Dan
The Executive President of the People’s Movement arty (PMP), Eugen Tomac, stated on Thursday that his party asks for the urgent resignation of the Interior Minister Carmen Dan, for committing an attack against the freedom of expression, by publicly presenting a “black list” with people who would instigate to protests.
“In this extremely tensed period, when institution have the duty to act with serious responsibility, we have assisted to an extremely dangerous precedent: we say an Interior Minister overwhelmed by the situation, who started to make very dangerous threats for any democratic society, instead of explaining to us how she can avoid the escalation of unforeseen situations about she had information that they could degenerate”, Tomac stated.
He said that the gesture of the Interior minister of presenting a black list with people who instigate population to protests represents an attack against the freedom of expression and democracy.
“We believe that such communist practices are should not be allowed among the Romanian state institution, which is the reason for which PMP asks for the immediate resignation of the Interior Minister. Such a behavior is unacceptable. We recommend her to stay at Sighet a few days, to see what suffering means from those who once were included on such lists of threat. It’s an unprecedented attack which we condemn with all our firmness”, Tomac added.
USR: Prosecutor should investigate the relation between the galleries of the sports clubs from the protest and PSD
Save Romania Union (USR) asks the Prosecutor to investigate “with maximum celerity” the information according to which PSD would stay behind the acts of the galleries of certain sports clubs, stated on Thursday the USR spokesman Dan Barna, saying that MAI intervened late.
“We ask the Prosecutor to investigate with maximum celerity and seriousness the presumption that appeared in the public space that PSD would stay behind these acts of the galleries of certain sports clubs. It is known that the Dinamo gallery is close to PSD, it previously participated to pro-PSD rallies and events” stated the USR spokesman Dan Barna.
Dan Barna stated that the suspicions are encouraged by the fact that MAY intervened with an almost two-hour delay at the protests in Bucharest, allowing “hooligans” to act in the public space in this time.
“We have this suspicion because if we look to the manner in which MAI understood to intervene, there have been almost two hours in which hooligans’ acts were allowed to happen. I’ve been there. The arrests started around midnight. So, there was a period in which no intervention took place. MAI’s police forces watched like they were watching a play how these hooligans acted in the public space, diverting the event and casting out the real protesters”, Barna said.
USR spokesman added that the request submitted to the Prosecutor is also legitimized by the Interior minister’s statement, who “stated that the information that she admitted today that she received weren’t likely to bring novelty”.
Protests and political uncertainty decrease the LEU: The national currency depreciates again in relation to Euro
The LEU continued to depreciate related to Euro after PSD adopted the GEO amending the Criminal Code, and on Thursday morning it reached RON 4.5482/4.5533/Euro, up by 0.13% compared to the closing level of yesterday.
BNR exchange rate announced on Wednesday was RON 4.5240/Euro, up by 0.45% compared to the previous session.
US Dollar also appreciated against the LEU, at RON 4.2121/4.2221/USD. The BNR exchange rate announced yesterday for the USD was RON 4.1935.
On Thursday morning, Bloomberg wrote that political uncertainty in the country could propel Euro to RON 4.6 if the PSD Government doesn’t withdraw the GEOs.