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14 August 2018, 01:43 | Tara Lloyd
Romanian police clash with anti-government protesters
Tens of thousands of people staged peaceful protests in other Romanian cities.
Friday's protests were organised and promoted by groups of Romanians working overseas, angry at what they say is entrenched corruption, low wages and attempts by the PSD to weaken the judiciary in one of the European Union's most corrupt states.
The crowds shouted slogans including "Diaspora is with us!" and "Resignation, Resignation!" the news agency said.
Hundreds wound up injured when the police responded with tear gas and water cannons.
Romania's centre-right President Klaus Iohannis, a critic of the government, said he "strongly condemned the brutal intervention of the police, which was disproportionate to the attitude of most demonstrators" but added that "any form of violence is unacceptable".
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Between 30,000 and 50,000 people, including many returning expats, turned out nationwide, media reports say.
"This government is crassly incompetent and corrupt", said Mircea Campeanu, a medical auditor living in the Netherlands who drove to Romania to attend the protest.
"Have no fear! Romanians will rise up!" and "You thieves!" they yelled.
Romania, a former Communist bloc country, joined the European Union in 2008, but remains under a special mechanism monitoring the status of its judicial reforms and the fight against corruption.
The Council of Europe's anti-corruption group, GRECO, published a report earlier this year, which pointed to Romania as being among a handful of countries in which legislative initiatives either reversed anti-corruption measures or risked breaching global anti-corruption standards.
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And on Saturday, thousands of protesters returned to the streets to call for the government to resign.
In 2015, Romania's prime minister - a member of the Social Democratic Party who was tried for corruption, fraud and tax evasion while he was in office - resigned after a deadly nightclub fire that was blamed in part on corruption and poor safety oversight. The changes are being challenged in the constitutional court.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, whose country now holds the European Union rotating presidency, has condemned the violence, in which a cameraman for Austria's public broadcaster was also hurt. There have also been long-running waves of protests against judicial reforms - at their peak drawing an estimated half a million people nationwide in February 2017.
Austrian public broadcaster ORF said Saturday that one of its cameramen had been beaten by police while a TV presenter was shoved up against a wall.
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