Hundreds Injured in Romania Protests as Emigrants Return to Fight Corruption

Romania: Violent protest leaves 440 needing medical treatment

Thousands of Romanians rallied for a third day running on Sunday against the Social Democrat government in anti-corruption protests, demanding Prime Minister Viorica Dancila step down.

Over 400 people received medical care at the square that night and two gendarmes were attacked, it said.

President Klaus Iohannis, an opponent of the Socialist Democrat-led government and a vocal critic of its corruption policy, criticised the police reaction as "brutal". A journalist filming the rally Romania's Hotnews online news site said he was kicked and shoved by riot police.

Numerous demonstrators are Romanian expats who have returned from across Europe to voice their anger at the government.

Protesters in the capital, Bucharest, on August 12 waved Romanian, NATO, and European Union flags at a rally in a square near government offices.

Between 30,000 and 50,000 people, including many returning expats, turned out nationwide, media reports say. They sent home just under bn a year ago, a lifeline for rural communities in one of the EU's least developed countries.

Tens of thousands of Romanians flocked to an anti-government protest in Bucharest on Friday, urging the left-wing government to resign and call an early election.

Another police spokesman, Georgian Enache, said "the legitimate state violence" was justified because protesters had been warned several times to leave the square.

An estimated 3 to 5 million Romanians are working and living overseas, the World Bank has said, up to a quarter of the European Union state's population, ranging from day laborers to doctors.

The government also recently fired the leading anti-corruption prosecutor.

Romania ranks as one of the EU's most corrupt states, and its justice system is kept under special monitoring by Brussels. The changes are being challenged in the constitutional court.

"We strongly condemn the violent clashes in Bucharest where many demonstrators and journalists have been injured", Austrian chancellor Sebastina Kurz wrote on his Twitter account.

Fridays protest was the largest in months, coming about 18 months after a February 2017 demonstration in Romania when a half-million people took to the streets to protest an emergency decree that decriminalized low-level corruption.

Some people sustained head and other injuries, while others were overcome by tear gas, authorities said. "We expect full explanations".

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