Fugitive Romanian politician uses unborn child for PR

The Romanian magazine "Viva" sparked controversy by putting semi-nude future mother and convicted fugitive politician, Elena Udrea, on the cover.

Delia Budurca
Delia Budurca NewsMavens, Romania
Fugitive Romanian politician uses unborn child for PR
 - NewsMavens
Elena Urdea, 2006, Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

The title of Viva's cover, written from the perspective of the unborn child, casts future mother Elena Udrea in a favorable light without mentioning anything related to the former minister and presidential candidate's criminal conviction for corruption.

The title states that she lives "in exile", a claim that ignores the reality of her escape from the six-year prison sentence she received from the Romanian court.

The pictorial presents Elena Udrea, semi-naked and 7 months pregnant, with the title "Eva Maria Udrea -- a little girl is preparing to become, in a month, the greatest love of the woman who wanted to lead Romania and who now lives in exile".

In fact, the correct title should have been: "Elena Udrea, who fled to Costa Rica to escape criminal conviction, is about to give birth". Or "Elena Udrea, convicted of corruption, is going to give birth in Costa Rica".

Viva journalists have argued that they are not a court, claiming they wanted to prove that Elena Udrea's pregnancy is real. They have admitted, however, that the word "exile" has been misused, as Elena Udrea did not depart the country for political reasons, but is rather evading a punishment set by the court. Critics have questioned journalists' motives in publishing this type of whitewashing article.

"The person in the photo is a perpetrator who was convicted of corruption, escaped punishment and failed to return money to the state. In short: a fugitive", wrote Judge Cristi Danileţ, a well-known internet commentator and the initiator of legal education in schools and high schools.

Dana Enache, editor-in-chief of Viva, stated that the interview and pictures were sent by email and that they did not pay or receive money from Elena Udrea.

Details from the story:

  • Elena Udrea (44) is a lawyer, and politician close to former President Traian Basescu (2004-2014). She was general counsel of Bucharest, a deputy in the Romanian Parliament and Minister of Development and Tourism.
  • Her name appears in three criminal cases, the so-called Microsoft, Hidroelectrica and BRD cases. In 2017, she was finally sentenced to six years in prison for bribery and abuse of office.
  • Urdea claimed the court decision was based on "completely unproven allegations" and filed an appeal which was rejected in June 2018. The Romanian government is currently seeking her extradition.
  • Elena Udrea is due to give birth to a girl, Eva Maria, in a month, following an in vitro fertilization procedure.
  • "The debates on the cover of the Viva cover have surpassed my expectations. As I say in the magazine interview, after my experience in public life, I am accustomed to, most of the time, what I am doing or saying to be treated with exaggerated passion, an aspect that I will discuss once. Yet yesterday's virulent reaction shows much more than the interest to relate to someone, to me this time. It shows how far today the division of society goes, how based on the intentionally cultivated hatred is this division and how radical the camps are", Udrea posted from Costa Rica, a message to those who took a stand on the controversial interview.
  • In reaction, a media advertisement company, Wunderman, announced that it is withdrawing advertising from Viva magazine.

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