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Romania is for the first time amongst Knight News Challenge winners with a consortium of EurActiv.ro & RISE Project - OCCRP The Romania-based project "Who are the gatekeepers of the Internet, cable and satellite infrastructures in Eastern Europe? Mapping and investigating media distribution providers" was among the nine projects selected for funding by the Knight News Challenge. The Knight Foundation organized on June 23 the MIT-Knight Civic Media conference "The Open Internet and Everything After", in order to present this year's granted projects of Knight News Challenge. 704 applications have been submitted, with nine projects selected for funding.
Romania President's brother placed in 30 day preventive arrest under traffic of influence charges ​The Bucharest Tribunal decided on Friday evening that Mircea Basescu, Romania President Traian Basescu's brother, be placed in 30-day preventive arrest under traffic of influence charges. He is accused of receiving 250,000 euro from the son of anotorious underworld boss Sandu Anghel, locally known under the nickname of Bercea Mondial, in order to prevent a prison sentence for Bercea Mondial.
Romanian TV station broadcast video showing compromising images of President Traian Basescu's brother dealing with underworld boss' son Romanian TV news channel Antena 3 gave a heavy blow to President Traian Basescu on Wednesday night as it presented a short film in which the President's brother, Mircea Basescu, appears to admit receiving money from a member of an convicted underworld boss's family in order to intervene at judiciary level for a milder sentence of the latter. On Thursday, Mircea Basescu claimed he has not ask for nor received any money in this case, while PM Victor Ponta, the president's archrival, called for the resignation of the president.UPDATE President Traian Basescu made a statement on Thursday that between the need to strengthen the Romanian judiciary and the natural reflex of defending his brother, he chooses strengthening the judiciary. UPDATE 2 Mircea Basescu said on Thursday that he was summoned at the National Anti-corruption Department as a suspect and that he, like his brother the president, regretted his "entourage".
Romania's governing Social Democratic Party clear winner in European elections Social Democrats (PSD), the governing party in Romania, and their smaller political allies emerged as the clear winner of the European elections on Sunday, according to multiple exit polls announced by TV news stations. PSD claimed 41 to 43% of the votes, according to exit polls, followed by National Liberals (PNL) with 13.3-15% and the Democratic Liberals (PDL) with 10-12%.
Romanians expected to vote for 32 seats in the EP on Sunday after campaign seen as training ground for local presidential elections later this year Some 18 million Romanians are invited to vote for their 32 representatives in the European Parliament on Sunday. Running in the elections are 500 candidates, 13 parties, two alliances and 8 independents. A dull electoral campaign was dominated by confrontations between the governing Social Democrats, their former partners the National Liberals and an array of right-wing parties and was seen more as a testing ground for presidential elections due to take place in Romania later this year.
VIDEO INTERVIEW NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen: I expect NATO summit in September to take long term measures to enhance collective defense / I would be surprised if Russian intelligence isn't active in Romania as well NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in an interview with HotNEws.ro on Thursday that Russia's "illegal" military actions in Ukraine have changed the security situation in Europe "dramatically". He said during a visit to Bucharest that he expected a NATO summit in September to discuss long term measures to enhance the collective defense of member countries. Rasmussen also spoke of how the Russian misinformation campaigns try to influence decision making in NATO member states and and of an increased intelligence activity by Russia.
EU, NATO member Romania faces troubles in Eastern neighbors as corruption inquiries fuel the fire on domestic front Romania struggles these days to figure out what is of utmost importance to the nation: the troubles in neighboring Ukraine and in the Republic of Moldova and its separatist, pro-Russia Transdniester region? Or the corruption scandals currently affecting the governing party and, as a reaction, attempts to redirect attention to PM Victor Ponta's archenemy, President Traian Basescu? As domestic and international expectations of NATO-, EU-member Romania intensify, Social Democrat Ponta becomes the first head of a Romanian government who while in office is mentioned in a corruption case - even though he is not personally part of the graft accusations.
EXCLUSIVE. IKEA deals in communist-era Romania were interfered with by dictator Ceausescu's secret service Securitate - unclassified files Swedish company IKEA used to run business with communist Romania in the eighties, involving confidential overbilling operations which were joined by dictator Nicolae Ceausescu's secret service, the dreaded Securitate, according to documents consulted by HotNews.ro. Files available at the National Council for the Study of Securitate Archives show that at one point in the eighties the head of Romania's espionage, General Aristotel Stamatoiu, ordered a transfer of money to an IKEA account at East Germany's Bank of Foreign Commerce. The operation codenamed Scandinavica was coordinated by a foreign Securitate officer who now heads Bucharest football club Dinamo.
Romania Senate speaker Crin Antonescu resigns National ​Liberal Party (PNL) leader Crin Antonescu announced his resignation as Senate speaker on Tuesday, at the peak of a political conflict with the Social Democrats (PSD), with whom the Liberals shared the government until last week. The announcement comes days after PNL announced it was withdrawing from the governing alliance with the PSD and the day when a new government - the third - led by Social Democratic leader Victor Ponta was expecting a vote of validation in Parliament.
Romania sees no immediate risks to national security related to Crimea crisis. President Basescu says any Russian military presence in Ukraine without Ukrainian consent would be an aggression ​Romania did not raise the level of alert for its national security structures following the situation in Crimea but will monitor very closely the situation in Ukraine as well as separatist evolutions in the Republic of Moldova, the Romanian Presidency said in a statement on Saturday evening. The statement came after a working meeting of president Basescu with representatives of national security structures in relation to the situation in Ukraine. Prior to the meeting, Basescu said that any Russian Federation military presence in Ukraine, without Ukraine's approval and beyond the limits of bilateral accords, would be seen as an act of aggression.
Head of Romania's Financial Supervisory Authority, retained by anti-graft prosecutors. Criminal inquiry called against former Finance minister Daniel Chitoiu ​The head of Romania's Financial Supervisory Authority (ASF) was retained for 24 hours by National Anticorruption Department (DNA) prosecutors on Tuesday, who are calling for a 30-day preventive arrest in a case related to ASF officials accused of protecting the interests of an insurance company. DNA also called on Tuesday for a criminal inquiry against former Finance minister Daniel Chitoriu in the same case.
Romania President hails evolution in Ukraine: Overcoming extremist or nationalist actions would contribute to national consensus ​Romania President Traian Basescu sent a message regarding the situation in Ucraine on Sunday, hailing the halt of violence and urging all political leaders in Ukraine to show calm, restraint, pragmatism and caution, maximum availability to dialog and flexibility.
Former Romanian diplomat involved in Singapore car crash receives six year sentence ​Romania's former charge d'affaires to Singapore, Silviu Ionescu, who was involved in a lethal car crash in Singapore in 2009, has received a six year prison sentence in a final ruling of the Bucharest Appeals Court.
Former Romanian minister Relu Fenechiu receives final 5 year sentence in corruption case Romania's High Court maintained on Thursday a five year prison sentence under corruption charges against former Transport minister Relu Fenechiu, an influential Liberal politician. The High Court maintained a previous 5-year sentence issued last year, but which was challenged. Fenechiu was  charged with abuse in office against public interest and complicity to abuse in office, in a case dating in the early 2000's and related to public procurements in the region of Moldova, which benefited his companies.
Romanian ex-PM Adrian Nastase receives new prison sentence in corruption case as struggle over justice system intensifies Romania's top court gave a final ruling on Monday sentencing ex-PM Adrian Nastase to five years and giving his wife a suspended 3-year sentence for complicity to bribe-taking. It is the second corruption-related prison sentence applied to Nastase, who served as prime minister in the early 2000's and it comes as the EU monitors Romania's progress in the justice sector while domestic struggle over control of the judiciary intensifies.
Romanian Parliament sparks harsh international reactions with vote to provide immunity against corruption charges Romanian MPs voted on Tuesday a series of changes to the Penal Code that would boost their immunity in case of corruption charges. The vote, which prompted media to call it "The Black Tuesday" of Romanian democracy, sparked a series of harsh reactions from Western embassies and international institutions on Wednesday. "This move by the Parliament is a step away from transparency and rule-of-law and is a discouraging sign for investors", said the US Embassy to Bucharest in one of its harshest positions on Romanian events for years.
UPDATE Romanian deputies from Judicial Commission secretly vote amnesty law setting ground for amnesty to prison sentences of up to 6 years and full pardon for prison sentences of up to 7 years, Bill eventually withdrawn A draft legislation on amnesty proposed by two Romanian deputies received amendments in a secret session by members of the Judicial Commission of the House of Deputies on Monday night. While the Commission was discussing a bill on lobby activities, some of the Commission members met separately to amend the amnesty bill. According to HotNews.ro sources, the bill was changed as follows: amnesty for certain offenses sanctioned with prison sentences of up to 6 years and full pardon for prison sentences of up to seven years in certain cases. The change, supported by the Social Democrats according to sources, would benefit prominent politicians who have been accused or even sentenced for corruption crimes, including former PM Adrian Nastase.UPDATE The bill was eventually withdrawn from the Tuesday plenary session agenda following protests from all parliamentary parties excluding PSD and the Conservative Party.
Major investigation in 50 million euro tax evasion case involving Romanian senator, Finance Ministry employees and a prosecutor ​Romanian investigators launched over 160 searches at the headquarters of various companies and at homes in Bucharest and the counties of Prahova, Giurgiu, Arad, Calarasi and Ialomita on Monday. The investigation eyes the activity of over 100 Romanian and foreign companies suspect of dodging taxes worth about 50 million euro. Informed sources told HotNews.ro the investigation eyes employees of the National Tax Administration Agency and of the Public Finance Ministry as well as a High Court prosecutor and a senator.
Hundreds of people protest in Romanian village where Chevron is due to place shale gas exploration drills Several hundreds of people were protesting in the village of Silistea-Pungesti in Eastern Romania on Wednesday against plans by US company Chevron to start operating the first shale gas exploration drill in the county of Vaslui, news agency Agerpres reports.
Sources: Romania PM Victor Ponta to leave for US on Sunday Romania's prime minister Victor Ponta is due to leave for an official visit to the US on Sunday, but it all depends on how the government shutdown in the States comes to an end - if no solution is found by Friday, the visit might be postponed, diplomatic sources have told HotNews.ro. They said PM Ponta's agenda includes talks with Vice-President Joe Biden and another top official and a series of meetings with representatives of US companies. Meanwhile, Romanian minister-delegate for Energy Constantin Nita attends an energy and investments conference in Washington DC.

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