Accessibility links

Breaking News

Romania Repeals Corruption Decree As Mass Protests Persist


Romania Repeals Anticorruption Rollback Amid Protests
please wait

No media source currently available

0:00 0:01:00 0:00

WATCH: Romania braced for a fifth day of protests on February 4 as tens of thousands of citizens came out in cities across the country to protest against the government's emergency decree decriminalizing some official misconduct. More than 100,000 people gathered in Bucharest's main square, carrying banners such as "Resist" and "Make Dragnea nobody again." Romania's Social Democratic Party leader Liviu Dragnea would be one of the top beneficiaries of the decree as he has been convicted of abuse of office and is under investigation in a separate case. (RFE/RL's Moldovan Service)

Romania's government has formally repealed an emergency decree that decriminalizes some official corruption in response to nearly a week of massive public protests.

Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu's cabinet confirmed the withdrawal of the measure in a statement that was issued after an emergency meeting on the issue.

The government also declassified the transcript of debates during the February 5 cabinet meeting when the decree that would have protected dozens of politicians from prosecution was approved.

But Grindeanu received no respite, as according to estimates on television around 200,000 people protested in Bucharest while many called for his resignation.

Protests were also reported in other cities.

In an sudden about-face, Grindeanu said on February 4 that he would implement the measure because he didn’t want to "divide Romania.... Romania in this moment seems broken in two."

His announcement came as tens of thousands of people gathered at protests across the nation for the fifth straight day.

On February 4, police estimated the total number of demonstrators at 330,000, making them the largest protests in the country since the 1989 fall of communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.

While the announcement was broadcast live on television, some of the protesters outside Grindeanu’s office -- which police estimated to number 170,000 -- waved the Romanian flag and chanted, "Resign! Resign!"

Under the January 31 decree, abuse of power would only be an offense punishable by prison time if the amount involved exceeded 200,000 lei ($47,500).

The government justified the decree by saying the current law did not conform the constitution and claiming it would help ease prison overcrowding.

Critics said the real goal was to help some of the several thousand officials and politicians caught in an anticorruption drive in recent years, many of them from Grindeanu’s PSD. Grindeanu took office a month ago.

The government's pullback could be seen as a victory for President Klaus Iohannis, who filed a Constitutional Court challenge against the decree, arguing that it undermined the rule of law and efforts to combat corruption.

Some members of the European Union had expressed concerns about the decree.

Romania joined the EU in 2007, but it, like Bulgaria, is still under the bloc's mechanism for monitoring whether they are meeting EU requirements.

With reporting by AFP, AP, dpa, and Reuters
  • 16x9 Image


    RFE/RL journalists report the news in 27 languages in 23 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established. We provide what many people cannot get locally: uncensored news, responsible discussion, and open debate.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

If you are in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine and hold a Russian passport or are a stateless person residing permanently in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine, please note that you could face fines or imprisonment for sharing, liking, commenting on, or saving our content, or for contacting us.

To find out more, click here.