Bucharest: street riot escalates after football supporters joined the protests
Protests continued today in capital Bucharest and other cities in Romania, the third consecutive day of street riots in the country.
Demonstrations spread in Bucharest from downtown University Square to other areas in the center of the city. Riot police increased in number after a group of football supporters joined the over 1,000 people who were already in the University Square. The supporters, nicknamed “ultras”, threw flamed bottles, crackers, stones and even trash bins towards the gendarmes. Most of protesters covered their faces to avoid being recognized and fined by the authorities.
Protesters in Bucharest and across Romania ask for the dismissal of Romanian president Traian Basescu, of the Government led by Emil Boc, as well as for salary and pensions raise.
Some were even protesting against the Rosia Montana gold mine project.
Thousands of Romanians took their anger to the streets over the week-end, with protests ending in clashes with the Police downtown Bucharest. Riot police and protesters alike were injured. Over 40 people were taken into the Police custody on Saturday evening, after a heated evening in the University Square downtown Bucharest. Riot police managed to disperse protesters by firing tear gas and increasing troops on the street on Saturday evening in Bucharest.
The spark for the recent protests in the Romanian capital was the proposed health law, which, if enforced, would have brought changes to the country’s emergency health system.
Sub-secretary of state Raed Arafat’s resignation from the Health Ministry over the planned changes to the system was the pretext that send Romanians protesting.
Initially started mid-last week as support demonstrations for Dr. Raed Arafat, the protests soon turned against the Romanian president Traian Basescu, asking for his and the Government’s dismissal, and for early elections. Hundreds of people in other Romanian cities, as Iasi, Cluj, Timisoara joined the protests.
President Traian Basescu was publicly for the changes in the health law and quarreled on TV with Dr. Raed Arafat. On Friday evening however, he publicly asked the Government to withdraw the proposal, saying it saw the public protest against it.