Some 4,000 people attended a new protest against the Romanian governing coalition's moves to change the legislation in order to weaken the fight against corruption, with thousands others joining similar protests across the country. The protest in Bucharest took place amid rising tensions between participants and gendarmes, with one German journalist apparently retained in a well coordinated raid by law enforcers. Demonstrations flared at the end of a politically heated day, with Opposition submitting a censure motion against the government, protests within the Parliament and journalists roughed up by governing party politicians.
A notably large number of gendarmes were present as demonstrators occupied the Victoriei Square in Bucharest once again on Wednesday, continuing a protest that took place before the Parliament building earlier today.
Demonstrations began again as the governing coalition has adopted in Parliament a series of changes to the criminal procedure law that are seen as a heavy blow to prosecutorial activities and especially the fight against corruption. The changes are just the latest in a long series of legal "reforms" of the laws of the judiciary which the governing Social Democrats (PSD) are using to undermine the fight against draft, as critics at home and abroad have been accusing.
Other protests took place in cities like Cluj, Sibiu, Timisoara and Iasi today. Demonstrators accuse the government of trying to turn Romania into a country of thieves, calling for the resignation of the PSD government and actions against PSD leader Liviu Dragnea.
During the Bucharest protest, marked by tense moments between participants and law enforcers, a German journalist identified as Paul Arne Wagner was picked by gendarmes in what appeared to be a very well coordinated, targeted intervention, acording to footage circulating on social media.
The independent journalist is known locally for having produced a report on PSD leader Liviu Dragnea in Dragnea's home county of Teleorman.
Dragnea is seen as the mastermind of actions by the governing coalition to undermine the fight against corruption, as some of the changes to the existing legislation appear tailored to help him in court.
Dragnea already has a suspended sentence for electoral fraud and risks other sentences in separate corruption-related cases, in one of which the verdict is expected on Thursday.
Earlier today, as the opposition parties invited protesters within the Parliament building, Dragnea was involved in an incident where members of his own party formed a human shield around him and roughed up journalists trying to get in touch with the PSD leader, as witnesses reported during the day.
That came as the opposition submitted a censure motion calling for the resignation of the government as a "national emergency". The motion has low chances of success.