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What the newspapers say: December 11, 2006

Luni, 11 decembrie 2006, 0:00

A revolt in penitentiaries across Romania challenges the Sunday internal elections of the Social Democratic Party as the most important news in today’s newspapers. They also write of various Romanian successes internationally, while one paper warns about the troubles Bucharest is facing as a city that grows faster than its capacity to improve.

Adevarul reports that a protest sparked by detainees at the Codlea Penitentiary in Central Romania spread lightning-fast across the country over the past several days. On Sunday, some 3,000 convicts from 26 penitentiaries were on hunger strike while some 6,500 chose other forms of protests.

While the events were sparked by a draft legislation pushed by an independent deputy asking for a pardon for short term convicts, the message from prison cells on Sunday included slogans such as “Down with corruption!”, according to the newspaper.

Cotidianul blames the situation on deputy Nati Meir, who sparked opted to promote his legislative bill “all by himself” instead of complying with the usual parliamentary procedures.

For its part, Gandul notes that while authorities have been insisting the situation was under control the management of Romanian Penitentiaries admitted yesterday that they were facing a “crisis situation”.

And it reports that several head wardens in many prisons across the country limited the access of the media and refused to provide details about what is happening there.

Meanwhile, the same Gandul focuses on the Extraordinary Congress of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) as well. The Sunday congress was organized with the money of old-time “PSD barons” - PSD officials with huge influence in local areas across the country - because the party treasury was empty, the newspaper reports.

Jurnalul National opts to channel its reports on the political events at the Congress: while it was expected that party president Mircea Geoana keep his seat against challenger Sorin Oprescu in a party vote yesterday , a major surprise occurred when PSD elder Miron Mitrea lost the position of secretary general of the party.

Mitrea was one of the key characters of the 2001-2004 PSD government and one of the very few who survived a major PSD leadership reshuffling last year.

For Evenimentul Zilei, it was a “nervous congress” as it revealed the “accumulated hate” between many characters and factions of the PSD and stopped short from leading to a fist fight.

And Cotidianul reports that Geoana and Corlatean have secured the leadership of the PSD until 2010 in a congress closely watched by bodyguards and gendarmes.

The newspaper mocks the situation as “the hall was full of people under criminal inquiries”, from ex-President Ion Iliescu, charged with bringing violent miners to crash an opposition protest in Bucharest in the early nineties, to people suspected of graft, including ex-PM Adrian Nastase.

Elsewhere in the newspapers, Romanian citizens abroad draw considerable interests starting with a Romanian woman who was named general manager for integration and immigration at the city hall of Alcala, Spain, the city where writer Miguel de Cervantes was born.

Thus, according to Evenimentul Zilei, “a woman from [the Romanian region of] Vrancea gets to work for migrants from across the world”.

Jurnalul National tells the story of another Romanian woman, aged 25, who has obtained an East Africa internship for the UN Tribunal investigating the 1994 genocide in Rwanda
But not all is a success when it comes to Romanians abroad.

According to Adevarul, quoting the Financial Times, Romania’s candidate for the European Court of Auditors Ovidiu Ispir may be rejected by the European Parliament as he is one of the weakest candidates from the 12 new members of the Court.

And the same Adevarul looks back at the situation in Bucharest and publishes a comprehensive interview with City Mayor Adriean Videanu, who admits the city is facing a period of overgrowth and implicitly huge problems because administratively it finds it hard to keep the pace with progress.

That is because Communist-era plans for the city considered a Bucharest with 1.5 million dwellers, while the number has already exceeded 2.3 million and is rising.

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