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Dozens Injured As Romanian Locals, Expats Rally Against Corruption

A man flashes victory signs next to a riot police line outside the government headquarters in Bucharest, August 10, 2018.
A man flashes victory signs next to a riot police line outside the government headquarters in Bucharest, August 10, 2018.

Tens of thousands of Romanian anticorruption protesters took to the streets of the capital, Bucharest, and elsewhere, with at least 35 people being injured as police used tear gas in an attempt to break up some of the rallies.

The demonstrators, many of whom live abroad and returned for the rally, on August 10 demanded that the left-wing government resign and that early elections be called.

Protesters around Bucharest’s Victoriei Square waved Romanian and European Union flags, shouting "Justice, not corruption!"

Local media said the number of participants was growing and estimated the crowd at 30,000-50,000 people. No official figures were available.

Thousands also took to the streets in other Romanian cities, including Cluj, Brasov, Sibiu, Timisoara, and Galati.

After winning power in 2016, the Social Democrats (PSD) attempted to decriminalize several corruption offenses through an emergency decree, leading to thousands of Romanians taking to the streets in protest and forcing the party to back down.

President Klaus Iohannis, the European Commission, and the U.S. State Department criticized the proposed changes to judicial legislation, saying they could derail the rule of law.

Iohannis has been at loggerheads with the PSD, accusing it of attempting to weaken the fight against corruption, putting pressure on the judicial system, and of implementing bad fiscal policies.

Iohannis in July signed a decree to remove the popular chief anticorruption prosecutor from her post.

He praised Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi for her efforts and said he was forced to sign the decree after being ordered to do so by the Constitutional Court.

Under Kovesi's leadership, corruption conviction rates rose sharply in one of the EU's most corruption-plagued members.

The push to oust her was criticized by the European Commission and the Council of Europe.

With reporting by RFE/RL’s Moldovan Service, AP, DW, and Romania-Insider
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