BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — More than 1,000 people gathered outside Romania’s government offices Wednesday to protest a move by lawmakers to pardon acts of corruption.
Hundreds of demonstrators waved Romanian, NATO, European Union and U.S. flags, yelling: “We have to defend the country from thieves!” As numbers grew, the crowd blocked Victory Square, where the government offices are.
They protested shortly after a parliamentary legal committee approved a draft law that would grant amnesty to people convicted of bribery and influence peddling. The move is a preliminary step before a full parliamentary vote.
Lawmakers from the ruling Social Democracy Party dominate the committee. However, Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu, a Social Democrat, said he did not support the proposed changes.
President Klaus Iohannis, who is not a member of any party, said he was “unpleasantly surprised” by the vote.
Wednesday’s protest followed weeks of anti-graft protests earlier this year.
Hundreds of thousands protested this winter after the government in January moved to decriminalize official misconduct. The government eventually scrapped the ordinance.