Romanian senators’ setback following protests
A Romanian Senate committee has caved under public pressure and cancelled proposed legislation aimed at pardoning officials convicted of corruption. The amendment was designed to allow convicted officials to walk free or have their jail sentences significantly reduced. More than 1,000 people gathered outside Romania’s government offices on Wednesday to protest a move by lawmakers to pardon acts of corruption.
Hundreds of demonstrators waved Romanian, NATO, European Union and U.S. flags, yelling: „We have to defend the country from thieves!” As numbers grew, the crowd blocked Victory Square, where the government offices are. There were smaller protests in the cities if Constantza, Cluj, Sibiu and Braşov.
Former mayor appears as witness in an election rigging file
A former mayor appeared as a witness before prosecutor in the Romanian capital Bucharest on Thursday. Neculai Onţanu, a former mayor of Bucharest’s Sector 2, had to answer questions after former Interor Minister Gariel Oprea mentioned a so-called „informal dinner” in December 2009, when George Maior, currently Romania’s Ambassador to US, Florian Coldea, former deputy chief of Romania’s Intelligence Service, and Laura Codruţa Kövesi, the head of Romania’s anticorruption watchdog, the DNA, met in order to celebrate Mr. Onţanu on the occasion of St. Nicholas Day. Romanian prosecutors recently opened a file concerning an alleged election rigging in 2009 and other corruption-related crimes including abuse of office and forgery of public documents. Neculai Onţanu, a mayor for more than 15 years, was arrested for bribery in March 2016. Onţanu had been given away by an informer: this is now believed to be Cristian Borcea, former chief executive of the Dinamo Bucharest football club, currently serving a prison sentence for falsifying player transfer fees and tax evasion.
Opening of European Film Festival
The 21st edition of the European Film Festival opens in the Romanian capital Bucharest on Thursday. Aimed at promoting the European cinema to Romanian audiences, the festival will include films from Austria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Poland, and Spain. Finland’s „The Other Side of Hope”, directed by Aki Kaurismäki, is expected to open the festival at Romania’s National Art Museum in Bucharest. Other four Romanian cities are expected to host the festival including the north-eastern towns of Iassy and Gura Humorului, Transylvanian town of Târgu Mureş and the western town of Timişoara.