romania

As Coronavirus Cases Hit Record High in Romania, Hundreds Gather to Protest Lockdown

Many demonstrators are convinced the virus is a hoax invented to stifle civil rights and free speech.
Răzvan Băltărețu
Bucharest, RO
July 14, 2020, 12:21pm

Earlier this week, on the same day that Romania documented a record 698 new cases of COVID-19 in a single day, hundreds of people gathered in Bucharest's Victoria Square to protest the potential re-introduction of lockdown measures.

The new guidelines – which will see pubs and restaurants closed and people forced to isolate if they show symptoms – aim to slow the resurgence of a virus that has killed nearly 2,000 Romanians. The protesters believe the guidelines have a different aim, with the Facebook group for the event describing the measures as "laws by deceiving politicians that will mean the beginning of an era where we are all experimented on and cloned by a Romanian version of the Nazi Josef Mengele".

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The demonstration was organised by Iosefina Pascal, a former member of the youth wing of the right-wing Social Democrat Party and an assistant to MEP Maria Grapini. Pascal believes that the coronavirus is an attempt by the government to impose "a sanitary dictatorship" that is fundamentally against civil rights and freedom, using masks as an attempt to muzzle free speech.

As the protesters entered Victoria Square, many chanted, "Television makes people dumb." Some of the attendees I spoke to were anti-vaxxers, while others represented religious groups who believe coronavirus is all part of God's plan, and that the government should get out of the way. There were also those who turned up to blame it all on gay people, feminists and technology – a common sight at any Romanian protest.

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Actor Mugur Mihaescu was there to call for the reopening of pubs.

Among the protesters was actor Mugur Mihaescu, known for participating in similar protests in the past. After he retired from acting, Mihaescu became a pub landlord and an adviser to Bucharest mayor Gabriela Firea. Mihaescu does believe that the virus is real, and was there, he explained, because he wants the government to reopen pubs and restaurants.

Scroll down to see more photos from the anti-lockdown protest.

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The sign reads: "Don't mess with me", while the T-shirt says: "Make Orwell fiction again."

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The mask reads: "Protecting me from the political virus".

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The man with the flag wrapped around him believes that a monarchy would save the country.

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Dolls mocking government scientists.

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Some protesters were happy to wear masks.

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Protesters expressing the view that the virus is just a scam by the government to make money and silence free speech.

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Another poster mocking the government's leading medical adviser, Dr Raed Arafat.