You know, I’ve been talking about why this is a coup d’etat even though there are no tanks in the street. I’ve written about how the USL is preparing for voter fraud on a large scale ahead of this Sunday’s vote. I’ve covered many of the insults, jabs, violations of the law and have been noting, but not always discussing, many of the accusations going back and forth of late.
But until today, I was not truly worried. I assumed that despite all the tricks, the referendum would fail and that Basescu would return to office. I assumed that the EU would continue monitoring and supervising the situation and that sooner or later, things would return to a kind of normalcy, whatever that is. I assumed that pressure on the leu to return to normal, agreements with world financial institutions (World Bank, IMF, et al), Mugur Isarescu’s intervention (his statements of late have been highly informative), the embarrassment of having a multiple plagiarist as head of the government and other factors would cause more level-headed members of the USL to shed their extremist members and get back to the real work of representing the people.
Alas, I see I had made a deadly underestimation of the people involved, particularly Victor Ponta. Today the news is awash with stories about this document, which can be seen in full at the link (in Romanian). Other news agencies have excerpts or their own watermark stamped on it but my link there goes to the original. It’s hard to read the date stamp but it says July 16, 2012. It had previously been posted on a relevant website (SCMD) but was missing the signatures and was only the text.
Quite simply, it says that the three leaders of the USL’s component parties, Victor Ponta as head of PSD, Daniel Constantin as head of PC and Daniel Chitoiu as head of PNL (Antonescu is the interim president of Romania and thus technically can’t be a member of any party so Chitoiu was temporary moved to head of the PNL) have signed a memorandum of agreement with an organization called the CNSC on a plan for the future governing of Romania.
It is the content of this agreement which is so shocking and why it is garnering so many headlines. But before we get into that, Ponta was asked today in a press conference (video) about this document. It is very important to note that he said he signed only the first page, that he denied knowing who Mircea Doganu was, and that all of the rest of the pages were fabrications by the press.
The first page itself clearly states “we agree with the list of objectives proposed by the CNSC and SCMD”. Clearly there is a list somewhere. Unlike Ponta, the SCMD is extremely proud of having gotten the USL to sign their document and so they have the same document online and it is identical. I should add here that Doganu (head of the SCMD) has validated this document. Ponta, in the press conference, also says, “Who is Mircea Doganu?”, acting like he never heard of the guy. This is extremely important as you will see below.
The 15-page list of objectives that the USL agreed on in principal with SCMD/CNSC is quite shocking. Amongst other things:
- The disbanding of “Stalinist” type police agencies such as the Constitutional Court, the ANI, DNA, CSAS etc.
- Moving away from any type of lustration law.
- No longer seeking to reform the way the judicial system is administered
- The right for CNSC to “monitor” all state institutions, including the Parliament and government (including cabinet ministers)
- Disbanding the GDS (Group for Social Dialog)
- Stopping all privatizations of state-owned companies
- Guaranteeing a minimum wage, raising pensions and increasing government employee salaries
The list goes on at length and includes some non-controversial elements such as guaranteeing clean drinking water and protecting parks and green spaces in cities. Nonetheless, the controversial items are listed above.
Romania was adopted into the European Union specifically based on the promise of the MCV, a multi-year plan to bring Romania’s judicial system and rule of law up to European standards. The ANI and DNA (Integrity and Anti-Corruption agencies respectively) were created specifically with the help of the EU to bring Romania in line with these standards. Every few months the MCV publishes progress reports, the latest one being issued on July 18 of this year, which you can read in English, Romanian, French or German at the link. It is a specific condition of Romania’s adoption into the EU that they work with the MCV to reform their judicial system, something specifically opposed in this agreement between the CNSC/SCMD and the USL.
The fact that the CNSC/SCMD in conjunction with the USL want to disband these judicial agencies is shocking. The fact that they want to disband the Constitutional Court, which literally has the sole purpose of ruling on whether laws are in line with the Constitution, itself the basis of the rule of law in a democratic post-Communist Romania, is beyond belief.
Lustration laws in Romania are almost non-existent and lag far behind other former Communist countries like Slovakia, Czech Republic and Romania. Nonetheless, a number of people in power today (especially of course involved with the USL) were also members of the Communist Party and could, theoretically, be removed from office, serve jail time or be otherwise punished if more vigorous lustration laws were ever enacted.
The GDS was created immediately after the 1989 Revolution and is a non-governmental organization composed of writers and intellectuals. They have their own magazine (Revista 22) and are widely respected in many circles. Lately they have been harshly critical of the USL (and many of the SCMD’s objectives), hence the call for them to be “disbanded”. It is completely unclear on what legal basis they could even be disbanded as they receive no money from the government and are an independent organization.
Stopping all privatizations of state-owned companies is something many people can agree with, including myself on a personal level, but is in direct violation of the agreement the USL government signed with the IMF (and will be expected to re-affirm after July 29). I, as a single individual, can advocate anything I like. But the government of Romania cannot suddenly adopt measures in contradiction to signed agreements and not expect to suffer the consequences. Any cause for concern of Romania’s sovereign financing would cause widespread panic, tank the currency, radically raise the inter-bank lending rate and rapidly deplete Romania’s foreign currency reserves. Left unchecked, Romania would be bankrupt in a matter of a few months.
While it is noble and understandable to call for increasing pensions and salaries, there is absolutely no discussion on any tangible way this can be accomplished. Indeed, any abrogation of signed agreements with international financing agencies would rapidly cause the Romanian government to be unable to pay its obligations as they now stand, much less any increase of same.
And last but not least, there is a lengthy discussion of now the CNSC will be given the power to “monitor” all activities of the government, including the national TV/radio network (TVR), the laws that Parliament passes, the nominations and activities of the cabinet ministers, the appointments that the President makes and even the activities of the Prime Minister himself. Some commenters have made allusions to the Communist-era job title of Comissar, placed in every factory and job site to enforce political correctness in the Soviet Union. The CNSC’s proposed “monitoring boards” would function virtually identically, able to overrule almost any act by a state institution, all in the name of “representing the people.”
Boots on the ground
But who is this Mircea Dogaru, head of the SCMD? Why is he able to get the USL leaders to sign such an agreement? Some of those demands seem so absurd, especially monitoring the Prime Minister himself, that it would seem beyond belief that Ponta and the USL would enter into such an agreement. Ponta denied even knowing who the man was but alas, that is a complete lie. And understanding what’s underneath it all is why I am so concerned.
Mircea Dogaru is the head of the Sindicatul Cadrelor Militare Disponibilizate, which is kind of like a “labor union” of retired and reservist members of the military. The SCMD has been angry for a while when their pensions were cut as part of the IMF “austerity” measures taken under the Boc government. When ordinary people took to the streets in January 2012 after Rael Arafat resigned after Boc proposed to slash SMURD (emergency ambulance) services, the SCMD immediately mobilized. They organized some of the biggest and longest-lasting protests against the Boc and then Ungureanu governments.
On April 27, when the USL bribed enough members of Parliament to cross over and dismiss the Ungureanu government, the SCMD was elated. They felt that they had a natural alliance with the USL. In the run up to the June 10 local elections, the SCMD actively supported the USL, up to and including helping out at the polling stations.
But after the June 10 elections, the SCMD and Dogaru began to get angry. They began pressing the USL to accede to some of their demands (starting with the suspension of Basescu). When the USL seemed to be moving too sluggishly, on July 5 the SCMD wrote an open letter threatening that they would hold a massive demonstration (against Ponta and the USL!) on July 14 if the USL did not accede to their demands.
It should be noted that on July 5, the same day, the USL had already removed the Avocatul Poporului (the only office which could challenge their “emergency decrees” in the Constituitonal Court) and removed both the #2 and #3 leaders of the country (President of Senate and Speaker of the House) and replaced them with USL members. The USL had also set in motion the vote for the following day to suspend Basescu from office (which did indeed happen on July 6). Nonetheless, the SCMD still was angry enough to threaten massive demonstrations against Ponta on July 14 if all of their demands were not met.
Secret best friends
It was on July 12 that the SCMD published their list of demands, identical to the document published and discussed in all of the media today. Clearly the USL had signed this document and acceded to their demands because the promised anti-Ponta demonstration never occurred. Instead, the SCMD was crowing about their victory and were exceedingly happy about the turn of events. Indeed, their cooperation with the USL has been so great ever since that their last press release (before today of course) was talking about how they were invited by the USL leaders to meet with them at PSD Headquarters on July 24, 2012. That was just two days ago and yet today Ponta asked, “Who is this Mircea Dugaru?” when the self-same Dugaru was meeting USL leaders at PSD headquarters (Ponta is head of the PSD party).
Pay to play
Therefore we’ve got the second arm of the true powers behind this coup. On one hand, we’ve got the “barons”, the extremely rich but completely corrupt financiers of the USL, including especially Dan Voiculescu, who owns a media empire here in Romania (the three Antena TV stations, radio stations and the newspaper Jurnalul National). Voiculescu, with his billions of euros, is using his money and media coverage to support the USL in exchange for them protecting him from prosecution. As already noted, the current Agriculture Minister is personally in debt to him (over 100,000 Euros) and Voiculescu has a major case pending in which the Agriculture Ministry is the plaintiff. The USL has already seized the Monitorul Oficial in order to hastily publish his resignation as a senator in order to prevent a court from imposing a sentence on him, and so on and so forth.
On the other hand, we’ve got the SCMD, headed up by Dogaru, who is using their ability to mobilize thousands of protestors in the street as a kind of blunt weapon to achieve their demands. In a biography published by a news source back in January (when Dogaru was bringing thousands of SCMD members in the street to protest against Basescu), it was noted that Dogaru had married the daughter of a high-level officer (3-star general Vasile Petrut) in Ceasescu’s army. After the 1989 revolution, many of his family members were removed from office and punished due to their high rank and thus causing Dogaru to have a personal interest in opposing the enactment of any lustration laws.
In essence, Voiculescu and others provide the favorable media coverage and promulgation of propaganda in favor of the USL in exchange that they seize power and protect their criminal backers (Antonescu himself said two days ago that “I don’t see a need to imprison anyone”). Dogaru provides the muscle, making sure there are enough bodies in the street at rallies or protests, all in exchange for raising salaries and a few other mutually-agreeable objectives, such as disbanding the troublesome court system which has been causing the USL all the grief in the past two months.
The Dogaru-led SCMD is the spearhead of the larger CNSC (National Civil Society Council), an organization of fellow (genuine) trade unions and a handful of fake (astroturf) organizations all united in their desire to gain greater political control by dominating the USL. A complete list of the CNSC leaders is as follows (untranslated):
1. Sindicatul Cadrelor Militare Disponibilizate (SCMD): Mircea DOGARU – Presedinte;
2. Uniunea Sindicatelor din Spitalele CFR (USS-CFR): Denisa POPOVICI – Presedinte;
3. Sindicatul LPA Bucuresti: Gigel ANDRABULEA – Presedinte;
4. CERTITUDINEA–Publicatia de cultura, spiritualitate si atitudine: Miron MANEGA – Director editorial
5. Fundatia pentru Apararea Cetatenilor impotriva Abuzurilor Statului (FACIAS): Oana Florea – director;
6. Federatia Nationala Unirea a Pensionarilor din Romania: Cojanu Dumitru- Presedinte;
7. Federatia Nationala a Sindicatelor Pensionarilor din Romania (FNSPR): Preda Nedelcu – Presedinte;
8. Alianta Nationala Feroviara (ANSF) (federatie sindicala): Maxim Gabriel Rodrigo – Presedinte;
9. Sindicatul Tinerilor Profesori (STPR): Riegler Cornel – Presedinte;
10. Asociatia pentru Promovarea Principiilor Europene in Noile Structuri ale Societatii Romane : Nadolu Petre – Presedinte;
11. Asociatia Pro Concordia – Craiova: Gl.bg.(r) Iliescu Dumitru – Presedinte;
12. Alianta pentru Respectarea Democratiei “Octavian Paler”: Gl. Mandu Petrisor – Presedinte ;
13. Asociatia Proprietarilor pe Legea 112 si a Chiriasilor din Casele Nationalizate : Opris Stelian -Presedinte;
14. Asociatia pentru Protectia Pacientilor: Barbu Vasile – Presedinte;
15. Blocul National al Revolutionarilor din Romania, 1989, (BNR 89): Maior Dorin Lazar, Presedinte;
16. Asociatia de Actiune Civica Internationala a Revolutionarilor din Decembrie 1989 (ACIURO 1989): Haraga Dorel – Presedinte;
17. Sindicatul National al Revolutionarilor (SNR): Draghici Teodor Sergiu – Presedinte
18. Liga Nationala a Revolutionarilor din Decembrie 1989, (LNRD 89): Lefter Cristian – Presedinte;
19. Organizatia Internationala pentru Protectia Drepturilor Omului: Lesu Ionel – Presedinte;
20. Asociatia Romanilor din Olanda: Ringhilescu Viorel – Presedinte;
21. Anghel Cristiana;
22. Federatia Nationala a Muncii (FNM) (federatie sindicala Rovinari): Cretan Constantin, Presedinte;
23. Sindicatul National Uniunea Politistilor “UNIPOL”: Marius IDITA – Presedinte ;
24. Federatia Sindicatelor din Justitie (FSJ): Persinaru Vasile – Presedinte
25.Asociatia Club TV 22 : Dan Cugler – Presedinte;
26. Asociatia Romana Antidrog – Arges: Popa Dorin – Presedinte;
27. Fundatia Luptatorilor Dec.’89, Raniti, Invalizi si a urmasilor celor decedati din Romania –Arges: Popa Dorin – Presedinte;
28. Federatia UNITESA a Personalului din Invatamantul Universitar : Gheorghe – Constantin – Presedinte;
29. Asociatia 16 Decembrie 1989 Timisoara: Pavel Daniel – Presedinte / Bacana Liviu – Vicepresedinte;
30. Federatia Societatea Civila Romaneasca -: RACANEL Petre – Presedinte;
31. Fundatia “Grigore Vieru” cu sediul in Fort Hamilton – Canada.: Florin GARBAN- Presedinte;
32. Forumul diasporei de pretutindeni cu sediul la Washinton: Ac. Nicolae DABIJA – Presedinte;
33. Asociatia Nationala a Pensionarilor din Serviciul Auxiliar de Specialitate din Cadrul Instantelor Judecatoresti si Parchetelor – Presedinte: Eugenia HELVEI;
34. Sindicatul National al Lucratorilor din Penitenciare si Publisind: Stefan Teoroc – Presedinte / Gabriel Chifu – Vicepresedinte;
35. Asociatia Nationala a Aviatorilor Profesionisti (ANAP): Costica Manolache – Presedinte;
36.Liga Muncitorilor din Romania : Cristinel Tanasie – Presedinte
37. Federatia Sindicatelor din Invatamant “Spiru Haret: Marius NISTOR ” – Presedinte;
38. Uniunea Sindicatelor SANITAS Bucuresti: HUȘANU Viorel – Presedinte ;
39. Sindicatul ROMTELECOM: CHIRCU Ionel – Presedinte;
40. Forumul Social Roman – Cretu Constantin – Presedinte ;
41. Asoc. Culturala Renasterea Neamului Romanesc: Popovici Dragos – Presedinte;
42. Asociatia Of. De Geniu in rezerva si retragere „Nicolae Hirjeu”: Gl. Teodorescu Constantin – Presedinte;
43. Sindicatul Lucratorilor din Kaufland Romania S.C.S: ROSIORU Daniel- Presedinte;
44. Asociatia Nationala a Aviatorilor din Romania (ANAR): Catalin PRUNARIU – Presedinte;
45. CAR “Solidaritatea Sociala” : Constantin NASTASE – Presedinte;
46. Asociatia si CAR – IFN – a Pensionarilor CFR: Paul BALAES – Presedinte;
47. Asociatia Expresul CFR: Nicolae NEDELCU – Presedinte;
48. Asociatia Pensionarilor Silvici din Romania: Niculae FLORICA – Presedinte;
49. Asociatia Cascadorilor Profesionisti din Romania – Presedinte: Petru – Mihai DANCU;
50. Sindicatul Liber Semnale Rutiere Administratia Strazilor – Presedinte: Dan GEORGESCU;
51. Sindicatul “Justitia” – Presedinte: Doina BART;
52. Uniunea Nationala de Ramura a Cooperativelor Producatoare de Legume si Fructe – Presedinte: Emil APOSTOLOIU;
53. ” Federatia Romana de Fotbal – Asociatia” – Director: Miron MUREA
As if further proof was needed of the authenticity of the document the SCMD/CNSC got the USL to sign, the document has provisions which directly address the needs of all of the CNSC leaders, right down to one lonely line about supporting the Romanian Football Federation.
The CNSC, lead by the SCMD, clearly has no qualms about a coup d’etat. I’ve avoided links to their official website because it is so poorly designed but you can see it for yourself and verify everything I’ve said. It’s obvious that the USL leaders are mere puppets being pulled by the strings of others, desperately lying to everyone in an attempt to hang on long enough to get Basescu removed permanently and have some kind of legitimate cover for their coup.
Absolutely the most disgusting and dishonorable act of all is that Ponta had clearly signed this document with the SCMD during the exact same time that Ponta was meeting with Barroso, getting the “11 Commandments” and then writing an illiterate letter full of replies in response. I knew that some of Ponta’s answers were half truths and lies but I am ashamed to say that I had never guessed just how mendacious that letter truly was.
Whatever happens on Sunday, these elements are not going to go away. Antonescu and/or Ponta may resign (although lately they have vowed not to) but the criminal, corrupt and thuggish organizations are not going to disappear. And Basescu, for all his strengths, is certainly far from perfect and there are plenty of corrupt, evil politicians in the PDL.
Looks like we’re in for a long, hot, crazy summer. Already some areas of vegetation in Romania are on fire and burning out of control. I can only hope that this country doesn’t similarly catch fire and disintegrate between my very eyes.
May God have mercy on us all