Paradoxically, it was PSD itself, along with the authorities controlled by the government coalition with ALDE and the subordinate press who contributed to heightening the importance of the protest which saw numerous Romanians working abroad attending for the first time.
The first initiative meant to irritate the anti-PSD camp at home and abroad was the Bucharest Traffic Police retaining Răzvan Ștefănescu’s “M***PSD” license plates and driving license, a Romanian from Sweden who turned an obscenity into an anti-government slogan, adopted even by intellectuals.
The abuse of the traffic agents – who later had to returned the legally obtained license plates and apologize to Ștefănescu – angered public opinion.
2014, a common milepost
Only, instead of disarming the situation, more and more voices began fueling a conspiracy theory, claiming the secret service and even President Klaus Iohannis aimed to overthrow the Dăncilă government by inciting the diaspora to attend the 10 August rally.
“The same Network of journalists, the main instrument of the grand diversion during the 2014 presidential election, turning a defiance of public morality into a political battle scene speaks volumes. (...) I believe we are talking not so much about an Operation, but a coordination exercise anticipating the great diversions to come aiming to instate My Government of Klaus Iohannis”, wrote Ion Cristoiu in the article “Operation MUE-PSD: a coordination exercise for the real diversions to come” of 5 August.
Interestingly, on 2 August, Alina Mungiu Pippidi evoked an almost similar theory. In the commentary “This slum does not represent the Diaspora!”, widely criticized for the aggressive language, she wrote: "What could explain why a Romanian driver from Scandinavia would use the slogan "Muie PSD"(whatever that means, I find it rather incomprehensible, but probably only because I was not raised in the slum) after cool and right-wing copywriters created the more fashionable "Muie Ponta" in the 2014 election campaign, a kind of "Rezist avant rezist", for which Euronews (headed by our boys, let’s not forget) turns this into European news (which tells us what?! How low the political battle in Romania has sunk?!), for which a former PSD member speaks on behalf of a a diaspora calling us to a rally and some Securitate press relays (under an assumed name) distributes to tens of thousands the call to the great battle on 10 August and the call to fight law enforcement agencies repressing it? "
The Grosu-Cioacă diversion
That the diaspora rally would lead to violence was first mentioned on Antena 3, a television broadcaster which on 7 August invented a protest organizer, Ovidiu Grosu, and interviewed him. “I’m talking about a revolution, not a protest. (…) I am now raising an alarm, a warning to law enforcement: anyone who will try to repress these events will be trialed by the International Criminal Court because under the circumstances we have the right to even kill (…) If a riot police officer puts the baton to my throat or the gun to my head, I have the right to take his life”, claimed Ovidiu Grosu on 7 August. The following day, he was placed under judicial review by DIICOT, forbidding him to use the internet. Civic organizations immediately opposed his statements and did not recognize him as the protest organizer.
Another diversion regarded the rally permit. Initially, the permit for the 10 August protest was requested by the Federation of Romanians Abroad, lead by Emanoil Cioacă, of origin from Teleorman, former president of PSD Diaspora. Initially Bucharest City Hall declined the permit, but shortly after Gabriela Firea reconsidered and agreed to the protest taking place. Only, surprise, two days before the rally, Emanoil Cioacă announced that his federation, established in April, no longer wished to organize the rally, invoking a misunderstanding with City Hall.
Dancilă`s letter to Brussels
Most attempts to discredit the “Diaspora protest” came only the day after it was suppressed by the Gendarmerie. The catchphrase: people in the streets attempted a coup d’etat.
“The coup is ongoing”, wrote Iulian Capsali, the new editorial director of Romania liberă. “It seems the head of the services, including the President, want political change, not electorally (they couldn’t even, since, given the absolute inconsistency of the opposition, unfortunately, if elections were held tomorrow they would lose big), but with violence”, he claimed.
If editorials can claim as they wish, the same cannot be said for state representatives. However, on Thursday, 16 August, the press stated that Viorica Dancilă had sent a letter to the European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker and Vice-President Frans Timmermans, claiming that “these attempts to violently overthrow a legitimate government can represent a dangerous precedent among democratic countries”. Newsweek Romania revealed the Prime Minister did not respect diplomatic protocol.
ALDE European Parliament Member Norica Nicolai followed claiming images of police officers hitting people with their arms raised at the 10 August rally were tampered. “A lot can be done using a computer. I believe the images of police officers hitting people with their arms raised are tampered”, claimed the politician elected by Romanians to represent them in Brussels. And PSD MEP Claudia Tapardel advanced the idea that police officers were assaulted just as much as protesters. “How are innocent people and riot police officers at fault for being brutally attacked and beaten by some hooligans, who represent neither the Romanian Disapora, nor the true Romanians. How is it possible for the President of Romania and opposition leaders to justify the acts of violence and aggression??” stated the politician.
Former Education Minister, Liviu Pop and Gabriel Zamfir, Director of the Oltenia Philharmonic joined in, stating that mothers who bring their children to the protests deserve a “bullet to the head”. And many, far too many others voiced similar views.
This article was translated into English by Cosmin Pojoranu