The Week in Bucharest Life

Bucharest's next mayor
Bucharest’s next mayor
Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta, currently on trial for 19 counts of money laundering and falsifying documents, easily survived a no-confidence motion in parliament after his PSD party abstained from voting. Ponta then went on TV on Wedensday evening to state that he intends to remain prime minister at least until next summer’s general election, and perhaps after. Embarrassingly for the PM the interim PSD leader Liviu Dragnea (who was sitting next to Ponta in the TV studio) was heard to utter the words: ‘no, that would be too much.’

The Romanian Anti-Corruption Unit (the DNA) claimed that Apa Nova, the nominally French-controlled company which has a 25 year monopoly on supplying Bucharest with water, has been illegally raising consumer water prices with the knowing and willing approval of the city council, to whose members it has been paying huge bribes. The DNA went so far as to claim that every single Bucharest councilor was corrupt and on the take. Meantime, the first heavy rains of autumn on Monday saw many of the city’s main streets once again flooded, the result of a lack of investment in drainage by the same Apa Nova.

Bucharest’s mayor Sorin Oprescu remains in police custody following his arrest for taking bribes, although illness meant that he spent much of the week in hospital. It really is amazing how often otherwise sprightly Romanian politicians suddenly find themselves in shockingly poor health the very moment they get caught with their hands in the till.

You can read more about Oprescu (and some of Romania’s other dodgy city bosses) in this rather good Reuters piece.

The Romanian Vehicle Registry (RAR) announced on Thursday that it would no longer be issuing registration certificates for any cars affected by the Volkswagen emissions scandal, in which the German car maker manipulated software that deliberately gave false pollution readouts. As many as 105,000 cars are thought be fitted with the cracked software in Romania.

A PSD senator, Sorin Iliesiu, proposed the construction of a 25 metre high cross in the middle of Piata Universitatii. Really. The cross is actually part of a wider project to set up a National Museum of Totalitarian Communism. Nice idea perhaps, but we do have to ask why the museum can’t simply be a National Museum of Totalitarianism? In making it merely a communist museum, the fascist Legionary State of 1940-41, as well as the military dictatorship of Ion Antonescu (1941-4) are excluded. Both regimes committed atrocities often in excess of anything the communists managed, not least the scumbag, devil-worshipping legionnaires whose pogroms were amongst the most brutal in all Europe.

Finally, Traian Basescu refused to rule out running for mayor of Bucharest in next year’s local elections. He previously held the post from 2000-4, before being elected president. Given the other options, the city could do a hell of a lot worse.


2 thoughts on “The Week in Bucharest Life

  1. I’d be amazed if any political class in any country isn’t corrupt to some degree. Of course not every individual is, but it’s really no big news story.

    Although no harm in attacking people like this, rather than Prince Charles, as I’m of the opinion these people do more harm to Romania, than Prince Charles does (if he’s ever done any harm anyway!) …..

    I was wondering, what’s the free press like over there, meaning – could this kind of article appear in the local media, either tv, radio or print?

    Or is it simply too libellous or ‘intrusive’ that Romanian journalists would be restricted on what opinions or indeed facts, they can report on?


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