Romania locks down for more austerity protests

Print version
Jan. 20, 2012, 4:24 p.m. | World — by Reuters

Anti-government protesters march in Bucharest, Romania, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012.
© AP


BUCHAREST - Demonstrators started gathering in central Bucharest on Friday and Romania prepared to deploy riot police over the weekend after a week of anti-austerity protests turned violent. About 7,000 opposition supporters marched through Bucharest on Thursday, while at a separate demonstration later in the day police fired tear gas against protesters who threw bricks and bottles.. Police detained about 100 people.

Interior ministry spokesman Marius Militaru said it was hard to tell for now whether there would be more protests over the weekend. "All I can tell you is that we will line up riot police for public order on the downtown streets."

The demonstrations began after President Traian Basescu criticised the popular deputy health minister who resigned. The minister, Raed Arafat, has since been reinstated in a failed attempt to calm the situation.

Protesters, angered by austerity measures which include salary cuts and a rise in sales tax, have called for Basescu and his close ally Prime Minister Emil Boc to resign.

Romania is already the European Union's second-poorest country, with per capita income less than half the bloc's average, and the austerity measures meant to turn around the country's troubled finances have hit hard.

The protests - Romania's most violent in more than a decade - are unlikely to be enough to change policies which are needed to keep International Monetary Fund support and are backed by the leftist opposition USL.

Their size is still well short of the protests which erupted when austerity measures were introduced in 2010, the biggest of which attracted 30,000 people.

But they leave Prime Minister Emil Boc's ruling PDL in a challenging position as it seeks to regain ground before elections due later this year. Polls give the PDL about 18 percent support compared to 50 percent for the USL.
The Kyiv Post is disabling its online comment section due to an increase in trolls, violent comments and other personal attacks. Other news organizations worldwide have taken similar steps for the same reasons. The Kyiv Post regrets having to take this action. The newspaper believes in a robust public debate, but the discussion must be constructive and intelligent. For the time being, the Kyiv Post will allow comments on its moderated Facebook group The newspaper will consider hosting online comments again when circumstances allow. Thank you from the Kyiv Post.


© 1995–2015 Public Media

Web links to Kyiv Post material are allowed provided that they contain a URL hyperlink to the material and a maximum 500-character extract of the story. Otherwise, all materials contained on this site are protected by copyright law and may not be reproduced without the prior written permission of Public Media at
All information of the Interfax-Ukraine news agency placed on this web site is designed for internal use only. Its reproduction or distribution in any form is prohibited without a written permission of Interfax-Ukraine.