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The Hounds of Winter circle Romania's Anti-corruption Drive

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10 Dec 2016 05:18:31
Mihnea Dumitru

An opinion piece for Euractiv fails to understand the sistemic nature of Romanian corruption and instead opts to hound the fight against it, suggesting that its champions are somehow building upon the Communist past. This is false.

 
An opinion piece by british journalist Nick Kochan, published by Euractiv, is stirring up the debate on the anticorruption drive in Romania, suggesting all manner of connections that resemble shaming pieces of the paid variety in local mass-media, rather than the careful investigative work of a seasoned journalist. 
 
The author fails to understand the sistemic nature of Romanian corruption and instead opts to hound the fight against it, suggesting that its champions are somehow building upon the Communist past. This is false. 
 
In his article, the National Anticorruption Directorate - known locally as DNA - is compared to the dreaded Securitate because it uses the Romanian secret service - SRI `hand in glove`, as the author puts it. 
 
However, the fight againts corruption in Romania is considered of strategic importance by the highest security structures in the land, including SRI. The DNA is chiefly mandated to fight corruption. Until recently, the SRI was the only legally-mandated government service for surveillance, which meant that the DNA had no choice but to use its resources. 
 
From there to the 2.0 version of the Securitate, which `many regard` as such, is a long path to tread. While the author's worries are legitimate, on a theoretical level, they are in no way supported by his evidence, which is poor and badly researched. 
 
In Romania, the DNA had more popular support last year than the Orthodox Church. Paupered by a quarter century of robber barrons who were protected by politicians, Romanians trust the fight against corruption more than God. 
 
There has been mounting pressure from political circles for Mrs. Kovesi to step down from office, despite a good track record and constant accolades by foreign embassies, including the United Kingdom's. 
 
Yet Mr. Kochan would think otherwise. The Israeli `sleuths` that the author identifies and uses for his reporting were arrested for trying to dig up up dirt on Mrs. Kovesi. The practices they are being investigated for are illegal in this, and many other countries. Their actions are most likely a result of that same fight against corruption Kovesi in championing. 
 
Mr. Kochan's expose is all over the map with half-thought conclusions, and it shows he has little to no knowledge of Romania. 
 
The most revealing error, in this sense, is when he suggests that the DNA's role in accusing former deputy prime minister Gabriel Oprea of 'abuse of office' is exagerrated, because of the traffic accident his outrider was involved in. He essentially leaves open the interpretation that a traffic accident could be construed as abuse of office. 
 
Well, it was abuse of office. The law states as much, in that a minister may not use outriders, unless very specific conditions are met, such as in emergencies. The minister in question, according to the investigation, used them all the time: three times as much as the President, in fact. 
 
The man involved in the traffic accident died, because he was forced to do his job, when he didn't have to. He was ordered to his death, Mr. Kochan. A whole government fell because of his death, and not because Mrs. Kovesi did anything about it, but because people revolted, and a subsequent national tragedy confirmed that corruption kills. 
 
Your apparent care for European demcoratic principles is shambolic, when placed in the harsh light of facts. I fail to understand how an article such as yours could conveniently be published before Parliamentary elections here, especially when the fight against corruption has been a constant topic of debate. You add credence to the mounting pressure on the DNA and its chief investigator, in tune with at least some of the more exotic candidates in our elections. This could be seen as a coincidence, of course. 
 
I remind you that your own coutry's Parliament passed a law that is seen as the death of democracy, due to its sweeping and anti-democratic hikes in internet surveillance. You're lecturing us on the Securitate? 
 
From all of us here, in the Securitate 2.0 land, we wish you'd fight against communism, poverty and corruption for a few decades, win, and then lecture us on what democracy is. Because that's what we've been doing, with little to no help, for the past decades. 

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