The Parliamentary Committee for the Oversight of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) invited SRI Director Eduard Hellvig (photo), Interior Minister Carmen Dan and the heads of the Gendarmerie and Police to discuss the violent incidents that took place during the public rally in Victoriei Square on February 1st (when clashes took place between gendarmes and a group of hooligans), but also to analyse whether attempts were made to “forcefully topple” democratic institutions.
The committee’s meeting was convened by its chairman, Adrian Tutuianu. Last Friday, he sent SRI Director Eduard Hellvig a letter containing four questions regarding the street protests. One of the questions was whether their goal was to weaken state authority or to topple democratic state institutions by force.
The talks also took place against the backdrop of disputes between Interior Minister Carmen Dan and SRI, the former complaining that good inter-institutional communication was absent. She complained she was not informed that violent groups were about to attack law enforcement officers at the Victoriei Square protests last Wednesday, pointing out that the text message received by the secretary of state contained only general information, regular information in the framework of the exchange of operational intelligence and that it was not signed by the SRI. The minister added that she later had talks with SRI Director Eduard Hellvig, with whom she agreed that the level of communication should take place at an appropriate echelon.
At the same time, President Klaus Iohannis also levied accusations against Interior Minister Carmen Dan. The day after the violent incidents, the president asked for written clarifications as to how it was possible for aggressive protesters to be allowed to ruin a peaceful public rally. The president added that the Victoriei Square protests were “eminently peaceful” and that he was very dissatisfied with the Interior Ministry because it did not properly manage the situation despite having information about what kind of “groups were getting ready” and because the gendarmes did not act against these groups of instigators who hijacked the peaceful rally.
Head of Romanian Intelligence Service says agency politically uninvolved as long as he is at the helm
Director of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) Eduard Hellvig said on Thursday that the agency has not been and never will be politically involved as long as he is at its helm.
Before entering the hearing at the parliamentary committee on the oversight of SRI’s activity, Hellvig was asked what his answer is to accusations of political involvement levelled against the Service in connection with the recent anti-government protests in Victoriei Square. He replied: “No [involvement], and never during my term in office will SRI be involved in such activities.”
He added that SRI cooperates inter-institutionally with the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MAI).
“The cooperation between SRI and MAI is evidently governed by a protocol which sets forth all the mechanisms for cooperation between the two institutions, and Mr. Chairman Tutuianu will present it to you after the hearing,” said Hellvig when asked if SRI had informed MAI on the day several violent incidents broke out during the protest in Victoriei Square, and if a relevant inter-institutional protocol is in place.
The SRI Director said he does not want to go into further details on the subject.
Asked what intelligence SRI has about “the protests that spiralled into violence” in Victoriei Square and who are those who disrupted public order, Hellvig reiterated that it is for the chairman of parliamentary committee on the oversight of SRI to offer these details, adding that whenever he reports to Parliament for hearing he also brings along documents to support his statements.
The SRI Director mentioned that he has nothing to reproach himself with regarding the topic of the parliamentary hearing.
SRI oversight committee chairman: SRI-MAI collaboration very good now; communication was deficient when protests started
The collaboration between the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) and the Interior Ministry (MAI) is very good at this moment, being conducted “at maximum height,” based on some protocols of previous years that need improvement, however there was “insufficient communication” between the two institutions in the first part of the protests in Victoria Square, during which, on 1 February, violent incidents occurred, Lower Chamber MP Adrian Tutuianu, chairman of Parliament’s SRI oversight committee said.
“We could ascertain that between the two institutions – the SRI and the MAI – at this moment there is very good collaboration and a useful exchange of information in terms of their duties, and this communication has at present that maximum height level, is conducted at the leadership level, based on some protocols existing since previous years. We reached the conclusion that these protocols must be improved to give more consistency to the activity of the two authorities. Secondly, I believe we must stress that we have to deal with a public perception that doesn’t coincide with the reality of the collaboration between the two institutions. This public perception was rather generated by the public statements made by persons having the authority conferred to them by the offices they are holding and which would have revealed that the MAI hadn’t properly managed the incidents, mainly those of 1 February,” Adrian Tutuianu said after hearing the SRI director and the Interior Minister.
Asked by the media if on 1 February there was an information exchange between the SRI and the MAI, Tutuianu pointed out that “it was insufficient communication, at first.”
He showed that starting 2 February, the SRI sent the MAI a higher volume of information.
Tutuianu: Iohannis’s statements that MAI did not properly do its job at the protests generated a public perception
SRI Oversight Committee Chairman Adrian Tutuianu stated on Thursday that a public “perception” was generated by statements made by persons holding public offices, statements according to which the Interior Ministry did not properly do its job during the violent incidents last Wednesday, however the institution acted legally and efficiently.
“It has to be emphasised that we are first of all dealing with a public perception that does not coincide with the reality of the collaboration between the two institutions (SRI and MAI – editor’s note) and this public perception was generated rather by public statements made by persons conferred with the authority of the offices they are holding, statements according to which MAI did not properly manage the events, particularly those of February 1st,” Tutuianu said.
The Social Democrat later mentioned he was talking about President Klaus Iohannis.
“I said a public perception was rather generated – and now I have to say it more directly – by the statement made by the President, who accused MAI of not taking measures despite having the information necessary,” he said.
SRI Oversight Committee Chairman: Protests are manipulated, 85 pc of protesters didn’t read decree. It’s a personal conclusion
SRI Oversight Committee Chairman Adrian Tutuianu stated on Thursday, after hearing SRI Director Eduard Hellvig and Interior Minister Carmen Dan, that the protests are “manipulated,” pointing out this is his personal conclusion based on “media” information per which 85 percent of the protesters did not read Ordinance no.13.
Asked whether a conclusion was reached after the hearings on the protests, and whether the protests are manipulated, Tutuianu answered affirmatively.
“Obviously, they are manipulated. The problem or the question is who is manipulating them. I believe this is the answer. Very many things were discussed within the committee, I offered you the information that can be made public,” he said.
Asked whether this is the SRI’s opinion, Tutuianu stated he did not say so and does not want to enter this “game.” Asked whose opinion is it then and what is it based on, Tutuianu stated: “It is, if you want, a personal conclusion, to put this topic to rest.”
The chairman was also asked in what capacity he made this statement, whether as committee chairman or PSD member. His answer was that he is not split into “several pieces.”
Tutuianu said the protests at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace were also discussed. “We also talked about the protests at Cotroceni, against the general backdrop of protests throughout the country,” he said.
Asked whether those are manipulated too, Tutuianu changed the subject back to the protests in Victoriei Square.
“Do you think there is no manipulation considering that over 85 percent of those in the square haven’t read the ordinance? If we want to talk seriously, because I see that if I give you answers that are a bit more official you don’t understand them very well,” he said.
Tutuianu pointed out that his information is based on “what the press writes.”
“PSD has no bone to pick with any MNC and with any company in Romania”
SRI Oversight Committee Chairman Adrian Tutuianu also stated on Thursday, at the end of the hearings, that PSD “has no bone to pick with any multinational company and with any company in Romania.” The statement came against the backdrop in which he asked for verifications to be carried out into the involvement of some companies – with both foreign and Romanian capital – in the nationwide protests.
In fact, on Monday he had announced he would ask the SRI to address his suspicions that MNCs allegedly backed the anti-government protests in Romania, explaining that this would break the national security law.
“All members of the commission presented the SRI’s leadership roughly everything that has circulated publicly. I also saw comments about me, that I have some bone to pick with multinational companies, that PSD has some bone to pick with multinational companies. Some even took the liberty to comment about the goods I have in my home. I would like to say something I believe is useful. PSD has no bone to pick with any multinational company and with any company in Romania. There were information and I asked for information on the activity of some companies with foreign capital but also with Romanian capital, companies that got involved in these protests. It’s a crime as per Law no.31/1990,” Tutuianu stated on Thursday.
He pointed out he maintains his statement that the presence of a company CEO at the protests is “inappropriate.”
“The presence at the protests of the CEO of a multinational company involved in litigations with the Romanian state on certain topics, or with citizens; I find it at least inappropriate and I maintain this statement,” the PSD Senator emphasised.
Adrian Tutuianu claimed there is a European directive that must be implemented in Romania too.
“And I said another thing. There is a European directive that must be implemented in Romania. Today I had some talks about some companies’ possible reactions toward the implementation of this directive and toward the Government’s plans for legislative amendments, or plans related to the minimum salary. I received assurances that the SRI will keep us abreast of all things that have to do with national security,” the Social Democrat stated.
Asked in what capacity he said PSD has no bone to pick with any multinational company – committee chairman or party member –, Tutuianu avoided giving a clear answer: “When I said PSD has no bone to pick with multinational companies, I said it very clearly.”
Likewise, when asked what is the source of this conclusion, the Senator said: “If I said PSD has nothing, has no bone to pick with multinational companies, it’s a statement made on behalf of PSD. Secondly, I said very clearly that what we’re asking multinational companies is for them to observe the law, to pay their taxes, to operate within the limits of the law, to create jobs.”
When asked in whose behalf he was talking when he said “we,” Adrian Tutuianu pointed out: “We as in both the members of the committee and the members of PSD.”