A new demonstration against coronavirus restrictions took place in Bucharest on Monday evening, as several hundred people marched from the initial protest venue in Bucharest’s University Square to Victoriei Square, in front of the government seat.
Chanting “Down with the government!”, “Freedom!”, “Off with the mask!”, “No more muzzle”, waving tricolor flags and blowing vuvuzela horns, the protesters en route to Victoriei Square occupied the first traffic lane; they were flanked by gendarmes all the way.
The Alliance for the Unity of Romanians announced earlier in the day that it was joining the anti-restriction protests that will take place in front of the prefect’s offices throughout the country and in the Bucharest University Square.
In 38 of the 70 towns and cities where the public demonstrations took place, the maximum number of participants provided by law – 100 people – was exceeded.
In Bucharest, following the intervention for the restoration of public peace, 188 people were taken to police stations, where investigations were carried out into the commission of outrage, public disturbance, destruction, arson, aggravated theft, failure to comply with weapons and ammunition regulation, and criminal possession of a knife. At the same time, instances were reported of aggression against police officers by the use of fire crackers, street furniture items, bottles, pieces of asphalt and stones that left 12 gendarmes injured and six utility vehicles damaged, according to the press statement.
Similar instances were also recorded during the protests in Drobeta-Turnu Severin and Galati, where demonstrators became aggressive toward the riot police, as well as in Braila, where demonstrators, who will be held criminally liable, tried to knock down a road sign.
Law enforcement issues fines of over 400,000 lei to Monday’s protesters over COVID-19 restrictions
Law enforcement provided law and order for the participants in the protests over COVID-19 restrictions that took place on Monday in 70 towns and cities, having issued 650 fines in excess of 400,000 to organisers and participants alike for several violations of applicable law.
According to a press statement released by the Gendarmerie on Tuesday, the fines were issued mainly for failure to inform about demonstrations taking place during the curfew, when regulations provide for traffic restrictions and allow travel outside home for strictly regulated reasons, as well as for failure to follow health protection measures against COVID-19.
188 persons heard over Monday evening COVID-19 protest in Bucharest as 12 gendarmes injured
As many as 188 people have been taken to police stations after a protest rally on Monday evening in Bucharest, head of the Bucharest General Police Directorate Bogdan Berechet said on Tuesday.
Bucharest Gendarmerie Director General Ionel-Catalin Stegaroiu specified that 12 gendarmes were injured, three of whom had to go to the hospital, but they did not require special care or hospitalisation.
“All the 188 people escorted by our colleagues to the Police headquarters are currently identified, photographed, fingerprinted, and most of them have been fined. As we speak, 222 fines in excess 200,000 lei are issued, eight of them to organisers. The people identified so far are being questioned and subjected to legal action. We are conducting investigations to identify all those who caused destruction and disturbed public order and peace,” Berechet said.
According to him, the Bucharest Police, under the supervision of the relevant prosecutor’s offices, have started investigations into the commission of outrage, public disturbance, destruction, arson, aggravated theft, failure to comply with weapons and ammunition regulation, and criminal possession of a knife.
Berechet mentioned that shop windows, street furniture, bus stations, windows of modes of transport were destroyed.
An on-scene investigation was carried out in all cases, he said, adding that the related criminal files are to be built by the prosecutor’s offices with the Bucharest District 1, 3, and 4 courthouses.
The head of the Gendarmerie showed that the protests in Piata Victoriei and Piata Universitatii over the new measures ordered by authorities to prevent the spread COVID-19 lost their peaceful nature around midnight, after several protesters left Piata Victoriei en route to Piata Romana and sat on the road for no reason.
“At one point, three people in the group changed direction. My colleagues tried to communicate with them to check their IDs and to understand their direction of movement, at which point they became recalcitrant, they even became violent. When the people were caught and immobilised, a large part of the group of demonstrators who were on the road started attacking the police officers, throwing blunt objects, stones, and causing injuries to my colleagues and material damage,” said Stegaroiu.
Bucharest Prefect: We will not give up restrictions; closing shops at 6 pm, no dramatic change in our lives
Bucharest Prefect Alin Stoica has announced that the officials will not give up the COVID-19 restrictions in place in the city, as he considers that the measure to close shops at 18:00hrs does not represent “such a dramatic change” in the life of the citizens, but just a “lack of comfort.”
“Almost all the people of Bucharest follow these restrictions and understand their importance. They are not actually restrictions, but limitations to comfort to protect people’s health. We will not give up these measures, because they are meant to protect us. The action of 2,000 people who do not understand the importance of these measures, will not determine us to change them (…),” Stoica told a joint news conference on Tuesday with Chief of the Bucharest Police Bogdan Berechet and the commander of the Bucharest Gendarmerie.
The prefect also said that the protest on Monday evening was kept under control by the Police, who acted calmly and determinedly to restore order.
Those who instigated violence against the new measures taken by the authorities to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 must pay
People who instigated violence during Monday night’s protests against the new measures taken by the authorities to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 must pay, Bucharest’s prefect Alin Stoica said.
“Those who instigated violence must pay. Those who instigate non-compliance with measures endangering the health of Romanians, those who instigate violence against state law enforcement, those who care more about promoting their own image than the general interest of Romanians and the state are not patriots. Patriots are those who protected rule of law, those who did not respond to provocation not to endanger people who protested peacefully. I congratulate the gendarmes for their calm which led to the protection of peaceful citizens, but also for the firmness and professionalism with which they stopped the violence of this night,” Bucharest’s prefect wrote on Tuesday on Facebook.
He thanked all those who respect the measures taken by the authorities and who understand that the discomfort they create is “a small price” for the health and lives of loved ones.
Violent protester in University Square, detained for 24 hours
A man who participated, on Monday, in the protest in the University Square against the measures imposed by the authorities in the context of COVID-19, was detained for 24 hours.
According to some representatives of the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the District 1 Court, the man is accused of committing two crimes of assault.
The man was detained on Monday night by gendarmes and questioned by prosecutors, after which investigators decided to detain him for 24 hours.
The gendarmes claim that the protester refused to identify himself and became violent with the police.
Deputy PM Barna: Government respects the right to protest, but will have zero tolerance for the hooligan, extremist, fascist beheviour
The Government respects the right of citizens to protest, but has and will continue to have “zero tolerance” for the “hooligan, extremist, fascist” demonstrations of some of the protesters.
“There are two very important plans for the discussion. On the one hand, the right of citizens to protest, and it is a right that we respect, it is a natural right. I myself and many in the current government have protested in recent years against what the Liviu Dragnea government meant and all those abuses of democracy that we protested at that time. So, on this level of the right to protest, there is nothing to say,” Dan Barna told Digi 24 on Tuesday when asked about the protests held on Monday evening in several cities in the country against the restrictions imposed by the authorities for the management of the COVID 19 pandemic.
However, the deputy prime minister stressed that there is a second plan of discussion on the protests, that of “hooligan, extremist, fascist demonstrations”, against which the Government will show “zero tolerance”.
“The second plan, however, at least as serious, is the one related to the fact that, last night, we officially have an extremist party in Romania’s Parliament, which assumed these protests and that part of those who demonstrated, who considers it legitimate to threaten Maia Morgenstern, to go to the mayor of Timisoara at home and to shout fascist, outrageous and unacceptable repertoire. Or those who went to Brasov hospital, shouting at doctors and ambulances: “Assassins”. Those people are hooligans, those people are from the extremist area, from the fascist area, and the fact that we could have any tolerance for them is excluded. So, the message is very clear, the right to protest for some measures, with which some citizens do not agree, is a natural right, I repeat, but these hooligan manifestations, the manifestations in the fascist register are unacceptable and I expect – and this will be the position of the Government – zero tolerance for these manifestations which, simply, throw us many years back from what is a democracy, in which the rights and respect of the other mean a lot,” said Barna.
Barna added, in the context, that people must not ignore these manifestations and show that sanitary protection measures are necessary.
The deputy prime minister stated that the Government will make the effort to communicate “even more clearly” on the measures adopted in the context of the pandemic, when asked if the authorities could do more on this topic.
President Iohannis: Violent demonstrations, extremism, xenophobia are intolerable and completely unacceptable
President Klaus Iohannis says protests are natural in functional democracies, but stresses that violent demonstrations, extremism, xenophobia are intolerable and completely unacceptable.
“Romania is a functional and mature democracy, in which the free expression of opinions is guaranteed. Freedom of thought cannot be obstructed, we all have the right to an opinion and the right to express ourselves publicly. This is a non-negotiable principle and the foundation of a free society. Demonstrations and protests are natural, legitimate and part of the structure of any functioning democracy. However, violent demonstrations, extremism, xenophobia are intolerable and completely unacceptable, all of which grossly hidden behind riots targeted at measures to protect everyone’s lives and health. Including of those who protest and deny the dramatic effects of a pandemic that has sickened more than a hundred million people and killed millions of souls globally,” said Klaus Iohannis.
Compiled from Agerpres