Romanian newspapers on Thursday discuss a list of “oligarchs” that have controlled the post-communist transition in the country, as claimed by President Basescu at a meeting in Cluj on Wednesday. The papers also deal with a new law passed by the Senate yesterday on establishing ANI, an anti-corruption body due to keep the wealth of politicians in check.
An open conflict between the Justice minister and the judiciary and he opening of a Danube Delta artificial channel by Ukraine are also turned inside out by newspapers today.
Evenimentul Zilei quotes without comment the list of “transition oligarchs” presented by suspended President Traian Basescu at a meeting in Cluj on Wednesday, part of his campaign for the May 19 referendum where Romanians are due to decide whether he’ll stay in office or not.
The list is topped by Liberal (PNL) oil mogul Dinu Patriciu, who is the “real leader of the PNL Government”, according to the head of state. And it continues with Conservative Party (PC) leader Dan Voiculescu, Social Democratic (PSD) Industry minister Dan Ioan Popescu, Hungarian Democrats (UDMR) senator Verestoy Attila and PSD “brain” Viorel Hrebenciuc.
Romania libera also reports from the meeting in Cluj but focuses on Basescu’s promise to organize another referendum in autumn, after he returns to office.
That referendum will ask voters whether they support uninominal votes in general elections, seen by Basescu as a means to clean up the political stage now dominated by “oligarchs”.
Gandul also reports on the events in Cluj, but balances the story with a separate report on the anti-Basescu meeting organized by the PSD in the city of Sibiu.
While some 20,000 people gathered to hear Basescu in Cluj, 5,000 attended the Sibiu meeting - and most of the latter were from other parts of Transylvania as Sibiu is a “no-PSD” city.
And Jurnalul National, a newspaper owned by the family of Basescu’s rival Dan Voiculescu, attacks the suspended President with stories as old as five years on shady deals it claims Basescu has had with a construction mogul, Costel Casuneanu.
The paper claims Basescu used Casuneanu’s money to buy a villa in a exquisite neighborhood in Bucharest.
Meanwhile, newspapers discuss what has become of the so-called ANI Law, a long overdue piece of legislation that establishes a National Integrity Agency to check and sanction the wealth of Romanian dignitaries as a means to prevent corruption.
The ANI Law, as adopted unanimously by the Senate on Wednesday, is substantially different from what its initiator, ex-Justice minister Monica Macovei, has proposed, Cotidianul writes.
While Macovei says it was diluted considerably, her successor, Tudor Chiuariu, says the new provisions are “more severe, but more correct constitutionally”.
According to last-minute changes, the threshold of term-long incomes that dignitaries have to explain before ANI was upped considerably, meaning dignitaries will have to answer ANI only if their incomes exceed a higher level than initially proposed, the paper writes.
Gandul remarks that all parliamentary parties have embraced the new law, including representatives of the Democratic Party who said the law was “a scare for small shark wannabies” and not the “big fish” it should have kept in check.
And Romania libera notes that ANI will be subordinated to the Senate as the Senate will name the management of the agency and will have the capacity to dismiss it based on annual reports.
The promoter of some last-minute changes to the ANI Law was new Justice minister Tudor Chiuariu, according to media reports. But Chiuariu has other issues to deal with right now.
According to Evenimentul Zilei, Chiuariu’s decision to demand the revocation of an anti-corruption prosecutor, Doru Tulus, earlier this week has created a “void” around him as representatives of the Judiciary responded with resignations, protests and doors slammed in his face.
Three Justice Ministry officials resigned yesterday in protest of what one of them called “political cleansing in the justice system”. The National Institute of Magistrates refused to have Chiuariu address future magistrates yesterday.
And prosecutors of the National Anti-corruption Department where Tulus works protested Chiuariu’s revocation call from their offices in large cities across the country.
In its own report on the events yesterday, Cotidianul quotes Justice Ministry sources who say Chiuariu requested verbally the resignation of another key prosecutor, Paul Dumitriu, but avoids to put the request on paper as he is afraid of revelations about a series of irregularities within the Ministry.
And Romania libera quotes prosecutor Doru Tulus, who says that he is the victim of an “execution”.
Elsewhere in the papers today:
• Evenimentul Zilei, Cotidianul and Gandul report that despite Romania’s protests the authorities in Kiev yesterday opened shipping traffic on the Bastroe Channel built by Ukraine near the Danube Delta, which threatens the Delta eco-system.
The papers note, however, the lack of a proper response from Romanian authorities after Ukraine notified them about the opening of the Channel in April.
• Evenimentul Zilei interviews Daniel Fried, a deputy for US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Fried has just visited Romania. He urges Bucharest authorities not to forget their commitments in Iraq and drop potential plans to have Moscow involved in Romania’s own political games.
• Cotidianul interviews George Maior, the head of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI), who raises the issue of a “possibility to unify SRI and SIE into a single service”. SIE is the Romanian Foreign Intelligence Service.