Romanian police attack journalists during diaspora protest

During Friday's diaspora protest, the police repeatedly prevented journalists from covering the events. Now, a police representative is saying that as a rule, journalists should not be nearby when violence is happening. 

Claudia Ciobanu
Claudia Ciobanu NewsMavens, Central & Eastern Europe
Romanian police attack journalists during diaspora protest - NewsMavens
Police, Bucharest Protest, August 10, YouTube

Why this story matters:

Police aggression during last Friday's anti-government protest of the Romanian diaspora seems to have been unwarranted -- and possibly illegal as prosecutors have started an investigation. But another worrying development that night was the systematic attack on journalists trying to cover the events. 

Several journalists covering the protest reported being abused by the police despite clearly labelling themselves as media. Typically, they were systematically told to stop filming or photographing events, verbally abused and physically pushed away from the scenes they were trying to cover. 

In a recent statement, the coordinator of the police intervention on Friday additionally said that he thinks that, when acts of violence are happening, the media should be standing somewhere at the back and not approaching the scene. 

As several journalists noted, this seems to be the "anti-definition" of journalism: staying away from events, instead of getting as close as possible to witness them. 

One could laugh at how deeply at a loss Romanian authorities are when it comes to understanding the democratic functioning of a state. But, of course, this is rather ignoring the rules of the game on purpose on the slope to authoritarianism. 

Details from the story:

  • Maior Laurentiu Cazan, who was in charge of Friday's police operation, has given an interview to the Romanian national television explaining police behaviour on that night. 
  • For the first time, Cazan issued an apology to those who were hurt on the night, while also trying to explain away why this has happened. He insisted the police operation was justified by provocations from the protesting crowd and that the police never lost control of events. 
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