Politeía Digest

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Posts Tagged ‘Corruption

NYT: The Curse of Corruption in Europe’s East

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BUCHAREST — This summer, after the police arrived at the handsome villa of the former Romanian prime minister Adrian Nastase to arrest him on corruption charges, he apparently pulled out a revolver and tried to kill himself. Millions of Romanians watched on television as Mr. Nastase, 62, was carried off on a stretcher, a Burberry scarf wrapped around his neck. He survived, and one week later was behind bars. But this is Romania, where everything, it seems, is a matter of dispute.

Anti-corruption advocates hailed Mr. Nastase’s downfall as a seminal moment in the evolution of a young democracy. Others have called his conviction for siphoning $2 million in state funds for his presidential campaign a show trial. Mr. Nastase’s opponents now allege that he faked a suicide attempt in an effort to avoid prison. His son Andrei Nastase, who was at the house at the time, said the accusation was absurd.

Whatever the truth, Adrian Nastase now occupies a cell measuring 4 square meters, or 43 square feet. On his jailhouse blog, he recently recounted how prisoners ate cabbage and potatoes, braved rats and had hot water for two hours twice a week.

Today, analysts here and abroad say the Nastase case has come to reveal as much about Romania’s political polarization and dysfunction as its halting steps toward greater democracy. It comes amid heightened fears in the European Union that its newest and weakest members are not up to the task of rooting out corruption that is a legacy of decades of Communist rule and, indeed, of weak governance before that.

Across Eastern and Central Europe and the Balkans, countries are experiencing a surge of instability that, analysts say, stems almost in equal parts from endemic corruption and the sometimes ham-fisted efforts to combat it in the context of bitter political rivalries.

The European Union, with 27 member nations, is so concerned about creeping lawlessness among its new members that Romania and its neighbor Bulgaria, which both entered in 2007, have not joined the bloc’s passport/visa-free travel area. On Thursday, the European Commission, the executive body of the European Union, said concerns about corruption and fraud in Romania had prompted it to block E.U. development aid, potentially worth billions of euros.

In Croatia, which is set to join the European Union next year, former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader has been charged with embezzlement.

Romania, in particular, has struggled to overcome the aftermath of the ruthless, corrupt dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu. Over the past six years, 4,700 people have gone to trial on corruption charges, including 15 ministers and secretaries of state, 23 members of Parliament and more than 500 police officers.

To many, Mr. Nastase, a former member of the Communist elite who was prime minister from 2000 to 2004, is emblematic of a generation of still active politicians who assumed that power and influence could shelter them from the law. Once asked to account for his apparent wealth, he defiantly roared, “Count my eggs!” a Romanian slang word for genitals.

Monica Macovei, a former justice minister who is close to Mr. Nastase’s archrival President Traian Basescu, said that “There are too many people from the Communist era like Nastase who are still in power, and this has polluted the political class.” Read more in The New York Times.

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Washington Post: PM’s plagiarism scandal puts spotlight on culture of academic cheating in Romania.

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BUCHAREST, Romania — His first education minister resigned for allegedly plagiarizing a book about Romania’s entry into the European Union. His second quit soon afterward, also accused of copying academic work. Now, Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta faces claims he plagiarized half his own doctoral thesis. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Theophyle

June 23, 2012 at 9:14 am

New Conservatism in Europe Impedes Two of Its Nations

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The infrared cameras here near Bulgaria’s borders with Greece and Turkey are high powered enough to pick up rabbits scampering across farm fields in the dead of night. But on a recent afternoon, the men inside the border station were focused on a car — moving a bit too fast along a country road. Maybe a smuggler, they thought. They called over their radios to have the car stopped. It turned out to be a false alarm. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Theophyle

September 5, 2011 at 9:25 am

From Bolshevism to backhanders

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Corruption has replaced communism as the scourge of eastern Europe

Juta Strike won’t say where she has spent the past few weeks. But the fact that Latvia’s best-known anti-corruption official had to leave the country for her own safety, amid political attempts to nobble her agency, is evidence of a rising tide of sleaze in ex-communist Europe, and of the troubles, and even dangers, facing those who try to tackle it.

A corruption scandal that links a political party to a private security agency is rocking the Czech government. In Bulgaria brazen attempts to rig a nuclear-power tender seem to have left politicians helpless. In Romania and Slovakia attempts to reform the judiciary have stalled. Even starry-eyed outsiders who win elections on anti-corruption tickets seem to be captured by the system within months. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Theophyle

April 15, 2011 at 7:49 am

Daily News – May 17th.

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Week of massive protests kicks off nationwide

Unions are getting ready for the biggest industrial action yet, called for Wednesday, when some 40,000 people will protest in Bucharest against the government decision to cut public wages and pensions.  Mothers will gather today in front of the Labour Ministry to protest against the cabinet intention of cutting childcare leave pay.

Last week, President Basescu said cutting public expenses might not be enough to reduce the budget deficit, and other tough measures might follow.  Despite massive criticism against the cabinet, the head of state claims PM doesn’t have to step down. However if the austerity measures fail, the government will have to take responsibility. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Theophyle

May 17, 2010 at 10:03 am

Daily News – April, 9th

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Top magistrate, businessmen detained in Voicu case

Anticorruption prosecutors yesterday issued 24-hour detention orders in the name of High Court judge Florin Costiniu and businessmen Marius Locic and Costel Casuneanu, who are under investigation in a high-level corruption case together with Senator Catalin Voicu and several other politicians, businessmen and magistrates. Read the rest of this entry »

Daily News – March, 30

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Ponta rules out Senate vote repeat on Voicu arrest

Mircea Geoana says a vote annulment would be difficult to achieve while press reports make new revelations about his alleged involvement in Catalin Voicu’s corruption case. All parliamentary procedures in the case of Senator Catalin Voicu were respected and it is out of the question to hold a second Senate vote on prosecutors’ request to detain the lawmaker, Social Democrat Party leader Victor Ponta said in an interview to RFI yesterday. Voicu, probed for peddling influence and taking bribes, is accused of having intervened with magistrates and police in favour of several politicians, most of them from the PSD, in which he is a member. The lawmaker suspended party membership pending investigations and last week, Senate green lighted anticorruption prosecutors’ request to take Voicu in custody. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Theophyle

March 30, 2010 at 9:35 am