More than 10,000 people Sunday braved biting cold to stage protests across Romania to denounce the left-wing government for backtracking on efforts to fight corruption.
The demonstrators want the withdrawal of proposed legislation that would overhaul Romania’s justice system and reduce the powers of the respected anti-corruption directorate, the DNA.
Critics say the changes would dent progress in tackling graft, which Brussels has long complained about in the 10 years since Romania joined the European Union.
In Bucharest’s central Victory Square, thousands gathered holding European Union and Romanian flags and shouted “Resign”, while branding the ruling Social Democrats (PSD) “the red plague”.
“They are doing everything so that they can steal legitimately. They are changing the laws in their favour, not for the benefit of the country,” said a 36-year-old who refused to give his name.
“Don’t force us to leave our country,” he said.
This week, Romania’s prosecutor general Augustin Lazar denounced moves to “weaken the independence of prosecutors”.
The protests saw several thousands take to the streets of Bucharest. More than 2,000 people demonstrated in the central city of Sibiu and in western Timisoara.
The PSD returned to power after a thumping election victory last December but has had a rocky ride.
It backtracked on altering anti-corruption laws in February after they provoked the biggest protests since communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was toppled and executed in 1989.