Bucharest Mayor gives up setting up Christmas Fair in Victoriei Square following clashes between protesters and gendarmes

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The Bucharest municipality’s decision to hold a Christmas fair-for the first time-in Victoriei Square (where anti-corruption protests had been staged) prompted a dispute between the City Hall’s employees who had come to set up their equipment and to scaffold the area and some protesters who were on the venue at the time. Subsequently, the tensions mounted, as more and more protesters came in and they clashed with the gendarmes and the municipality’s workers.

Eventually, mayor Gabriela Firea announced she gives up organizing the fair in Victoriei Square and that she would relocate it in another location. Yet, she lashed out against the central institutions and even against PM Tudose. “It’s the beginning of the anarchy,” “The Constitution is broken without the state central institution reacting”, the mayor said.

#Rezistenta civic movement has strongly condemned the City Hall’s actions to “abusively occupy” the Victoriei Square, arguing they are “provocative actions of the worst kind ordered by Gabriela Firea”.

We must stop this primitive and potshot attempt of Gabriela Firea to discourage the protests at a time when they will be crucial for this country’s future. We call all in Bucharest to join us in Victoriei Square to exert our constitutional right to protest. Firmly, but quietly!,” says a press release of the protesters.

A truck probably belonging to the company that was to set up the stage for the carol festival that the City Hall intended to organize in the square was seen loading the equipment, while protesters were shouting “Victory!”.

Protesters started to remove scaffoldings earlier in the day arranging them tidily.

We wait for you in the square, Mrs. Firea to talk a little bit. Don’t cross swords with the Romanians! Look, we arranged them nicely, you only have to come and pick them up!,” protesters said.

Gendarmes have been deployed on the venue after they have been notified over an incident between one protester and an old man. An old man accused that a protester would have hit him after he would have cursed the protesters. Moreover, the old man accused the gendarmes for not intervening.

On the other side, images viral on social media revealed that the old man would have been the one who kicked the protester first and then would have cursed and broken his mobile phone.

Three people among the protesters have been seized and taken for hearings.

Mayor Firea: Constitution is defied, central authorities don’t react

In retort, Bucharest mayoress, Gabriela Firea said the festival was to be held by the law, but it will not be organized anymore “due to some protesters who are physically and verbally aggressive”.

I see that we can mark as of today the start of a time when the Romanian Constitution and the laws are overridden without the central institutions of the state reacting. This represents the beginning of the anarchy. If today the capital city hall has been prevented from legally organizing an event in a public space that belongs to all Bucharesters, similar events could take place tomorrow at the Presidential Administration, the Parliament or other public institutions that are representing all citizens, regardless of their political view, social category or race. What has happened today is very serious and I sound the alarm,” Firea said in a press release, announcing the fair will be relocated.

“I decided to relocate the carol festival and the Christmas fair in another location, but this won’t solve the basic problem. The law has been trespassed, a man has been beaten by an illegal protester, gendarmes have been aggressed, public assets have been destroyed. Those who broke the law will be held responsible for this in court.

The public space belongs to all of us, it’s not <booked> to a certain ad-hoc or organized group,” Firea pointed out, adding that those who are not taking any action today “are responsible for the re-emergence of such violent actions.” She also talked about “the insecurity climate” that is being installed in the Romanian Capital.


Row with PM Tudose

PM Tudose has stated on Thursday that the Bucharest mayor’s decision to organize a Christmas Fair in Victoriei Square is not the most inspired one, arguing people have no pedestrian crossing in that area and besides, “it’s a decision that can be interpreted”, considering protests are taking place there. Initially, mayor Firea didn’t comment the premier’s statements, but some transcripts revealing a discussion in a party meeting on November 30 and released by dcnews.ro, Firea accuses PM Tudose that he is sabotaging the Bucharest city hall and that he has a hidden agenda in order to take over the PSD helm.

You have spent half of year consuming energy to block me and to stop the joint projects between the Government and the Bucharest City Hall. Mr. Iohannis is on electoral campaign for the presidential elections, you are on campaign to take over PSD. We cannot be united with those who have orders from the unit, we are civilians,” Firea would have told Tudose.

Gabriela Firea was also the one who started the row with former SocDem PM Sorin Grindeanu, which led to the gov’t crisis in June and to the censure motion filed by PSD against its own prime minister. The no-confidence vote passed and Grindeanu was sacked.

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