18 avril 2014

Arethia Tătărescu - the lady and the bust

Arethia_Tatarascu bust(Photo source) Too busty. Too voluptuous. Too suggestive. Doesn't correspond to reality. It must go! According to the Ministry of Culture, this sums up the bust of Arethia Tătărescu by Paul Popescu erected in Targu-Jiu and inaugurated last October in the park named after her.

The nearby bust of her husband (also rather voluptuous) Gheorghe Tătărescu, who served twice as Prime Minister (1934–1937; 1939–1940), three times as Minister of Foreign Affairs (interim 1934 and 1938; appointed 1945-1947) and once as Minister of War (1934) is also to be removed because local authorities never asked permission from the Ministry of Culture to erect it in the first place.

So, to summarise: one bust (excuse the pun) is aesthetically unrepresentative whilst the other is just plain illegal.

arethia-tatarescu(Photo source) All this hullabaloo got me goagăling Arethia Tătărescu, since I knew nothing about her. Not only was she beautiful, she was also an incredibly influential personality in terms of art and culture, particularly in the county of Gorj.

Born on 16th September, 1889 into a well-to-do family of landowners, she lost her father Gheorghe Piteşteanu at a young age. Accompanied by her grandmother, little Arethia and her two brothers, Gheorghe and Alexandru left for Belgium where she studied painting and piano.

She returned home in 1916 and met Gheorghe Tătărescu, who came from a wealthy family in Vlăduleni, Gorj county. The couple married the same year in Craiova.

World War I spelled the departure of her husband to the front. Arethia finally followed him to Moldova, joining him in Botosani (1919) where he was serving as aide to the commander of the officers' school of infantry. After the war, the Tătărescus returned to Bucharest.

Following a trip to the Punjab, Gheorghe and Arethia Tătărescu bought land near Poiana Rovinari, where they built a mansion. Arethia carried out extensive activities to popularise traditions of the region.

In a sign of appreciation for work done to highlight the heritage of Gorj, Arethia Tătărescu was elected President of the National League of Romanian Women - Section Gorj. In this role, she worked tirelessly for the cultural and social development of Targu-Jiu.

Although her husband was devoted to his political career, Arethia remained distant from it. An aristocrat in thought and sensitivity, her beauty and discretion earned her great respect and gratitude in Gorj.

arethia and brancusi(Photo source: Arethia Tătărescu [centre] with Constantin Brancusi) In 1935, she asked sculptor Constantin Brancusi (born in Hobita, Gorj) to fulfil his dream in building a memorial in Targu-Jiu for the heroes who had sacrificed their lives for the country in World War I. In May 1936, the city was ranked a tourist attraction, thus able to draw funds from the ministries for building the monument. Known as The Monumental Sculptural Ensemble in Targu- Jiu, Arethia Tătărescu's initiative and constant support earned her the name of Great Lady of Gorj. The Ensemble is today one of Romania's great cultural highlights.

For her countless social, cultural and humanitarian contributions, Arethia Tătărescu was awarded the title of Honorary Citizen of the City of Targu-Jiu on 13 September 1936. 

I wonder what she would have thought of Paul Popescu's sculptural depiction. Would she have been terribly embarrassed? Perhaps. Though vaguely clothed, it does not portray a lady of such elegance and dedication. For once, the MC's decision gets my vote.


Posté par Sarah in Romania à 15:19 - Commentaires [7] - Permalien [#]

29 mars 2014

Prahova: A child dead, a father beaten, compunction absent...

proteste2(Photo source) I've just read THIS article (in French) dated 22nd March and am staggered. This is 'old news' now in Romania, but 'new news' to me, and I can only say WTF???! WHY isn't the death of this child in Ariceştii Rahtivani, Prahova being yelled from the rooftops and internationally condemned on a massive scale?? WHY aren't officials being removed from their positions, brought to book and thrown in jail?? Here is my translation with links added where possible and (my) notes in square brackets:

A child dead, a father beaten: support for the Furcelea family

rig (Photo source: Frack Off Romania - the unprotected rig on the day of Marian's funeral)

During the night of 27-28 February, Marian Furcelea aged 9 was found dead near an unprotected OMV-Petrom rig situated between his home and school. Cause of death: poisoning by toxic gas inhalation. [Just for the record, OMV-Petrom is a Romanian oil company, the largest corporation in the country and the largest gas and oil producer in E. Europe] 

A week after Marian died, OMV-Petrom had a fence erected around the previously open site. [Too little, too late]

It was when the family decided to launch proceedings to sue Petrom for negligence that their problems really began...

Marian's father, Cristian, was grilled by police for taking photos of the fence being put up after his son died. He was also threatened by the mayor [Alexandru Cristea].

Petrom filed a complaint against Mr. Furcelea with the help of the senior management of child protection, laying responsibility for Marian's death at the feet of his parents because they had not accompanied him on his route home from school.

Not long afterwards [on 21st March], an anti-riot police van drew up in front of the Furcelea family's home and took Marian's father off to the child protection centre [the article doesn't say why, but I'm presuming it was on the pretext of a hearing]. On arrival, the anti-riot police in the van laid into him (on order?), kicking, punching him and spraying him in the face with some kind of paralysis substance. If he talked or posted [on internet?] anything, they told him, he'd be 'taken care of'.

As if that wasn't enough, they hacked into his mobile phone and told him, "from now on, we'll know everything you say and to whom". This is how anti-riot police work in Romania - on the orders of high-ranking officials under the influence of petroleum companies. 

Even the doctors who refused to provide Mr. Furcelea with a legal document pertaining to his injuries admitted he had been beaten up. He is still in hospital and can barely speak. Such intimidation gave Cristian Furcelea cause to consider dropping the whole affair in fear for his life, but he has decided to press on for his son.

Marian's father was not only brutalised because he is trying to obtain some kind of justice for Marian, but because he spoke out to the press about what is happening in his village.

marian-furcelea-constanta-lumanari-8(Photo source - candles lit for Marian in Constanta) I saw this story on my FB newsfeed last week, but was unsure of the sources so ignored it - mea culpa. Concerned that I was being lead down the garden path and into the toolshed so to speak (it wouldn't be the first time, after all), I started googling this morning spotting more posts on my newsfeed. HERE is an article from Gândul which has been used by other news sites (couldn't journalists be bothered to come up with an original text? Seriously?!), THIS from Romania Libera, THIS (with video) from Digi24 and THIS from Hotnews. There is also plenty on line via sites and blogs. HERE is a good, concise article from The Epoch Times (in Romanian).

So where is the international press, then? Marian's death has lead to an outcry from ecological activistssupport from people all over Romania and the funeral itself became a mass protest attended by activists and environmentalists from towns all over the country. A demonstration took place at Piata Universitatii in Bucharest on 23rd March to show solidarity with the Furcelea family. Not only have they had their grief dragged through the mud, but Mr. Furcelea has been severely beaten, threatened, intimidated and humiliated.

A small chapter missing from the above article is mentioned HERE. Apparently, soon after Marian died, Cristian went to the spot where his son had been found to lay flowers. When he arrived, he was surprised to find Petrom employees putting up the afore-mentioned perimetre fence. They called the police on grounds that he was trespassing on private property. "I was arrested and fined," said Cristian Furcelea. "They said I had trespassed on private property. Shouldn't that fence have been there before my son died?" At the time this article was written (March 10th), ie. two weeks following Marian's death, the family still had not received any message of condolence from Petrom....

According to Gândul, Georgian Drăgan, spokesman for the Prahova County Police Inspectorate, confirmed that a criminal investigation had been launched for possible manslaughter. When contacted by AFP, OMV-Petrom representatives said: "The investigation is ongoing. We are working closely with the authorities." Yes, I'm sure. You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours. Considering that it was the 'authorities' who had the bejeezers beaten out of poor Cristian Furcelea resulting in a week of hospitalisation, I personally don't hold out much hope.

Hope becomes increasingly more fragile when you read THIS update (21st March) from Nasul TV in which Leonard Dragomirescu, another spokesman for Prahova County Police, states that he checked the necessary documentation and had come to the conclusion that Mr Furcelea had NOT been taken anywhere by jandarmi of Prahova. Huh?! Furthermore, Major Mitrea (another spokesman, this time Gruparii Mobile de Jandarmi Ploiesti) says that no agent from his station in Ploiesti went to the Furcelea house either. He too had looked into the matter (they're all so hard-working, bless them) and no team had ever been sent there. So, what happened? If it really wasn't the police from Prahova or Ploiesti, then who beat up and intimidated Mr Furcelea?

death certificate(Photo source) Whether or not some of you may be thinking that the Furcelea family's awful string of suffering is being used/manipulated for certain ends, there are three main issues here that can be neither denied nor ignored: 1) a dead child and a grieving family; 2) the incomprehensible lack of security, competence and decency from OMV-Petrom that ought to know better (bearing in mind this is a Romanian company with Romanian employees on Romanian land with a Romanian child who has died and a Romanian family in mourning); 3) the unscrupulous bully-boy treatment by puppets acting on orders of their unscrupulous bully-boy bosses (mayors, police chiefs, managers, etc) who are under the thumbs of unscrupulous bully-boy politicians not wanting to upset (read 'lose face and money from') these giant companies. And those three points all converge to the one destructive, lethal cancer that has metastasised throughout Romania's political class post-'89: GREED.

Marian's death has not only highlighted the unfathomable levels of corruption along with a shocking lack of compunction, but also the gaping void where humanity should be.


(Photo source: Spot the difference)






I'll end this sad yet indignant post with a message from Frack off Romania on what we can do next. Please take the time to read it, for there are many different ways something can be done on small and larger scales. This cannot be allowed to happen again. Unless there is international media attention to shame those responsible and get something done, it will. Again and again. Thank you.


Please help!!! Here's how:

1. Spread the word!!! (media, NGOs for human rights, environmental protection and citizens' groups fighting fossil fuels and extractivism)

2. Help us find international lawyers (specialised in human rights) to work pro bono. There are hardly any Romanian lawyers who would stand up against this giant company.

3. Write letters of complaint to the Romanian Minister of Interior in charge of the Riot Police and the OMV Petrom headquarters in Vienna.


Romanian Ministry of Internal Affairs – petitii@mai.gov.ro

OMV HQ Vienna – info.ep@omv.com

Petrom HQ Bucharest – office@petrom.com

4. Financial aid is needed for this family to bear the cost of legal fees. We have already sent 110 euros collected from donations. Further donations will be withdrawn from paypal on Monday.

Donations can be sent:
a) in RON: Peacocks Razvan Marius IBAN: RO85BACX0000000679700000, SWIFT: BACXROBU
b) in Euros: Peacocks Razvan Marius IBAN: RO31BACX0000000679700002, SWIFT: BACXROBU, with Tiriac Bank
c) via paypal : razvan.paune@yahoo.com
d) by MoneyGram or Western: Hettie Benedek, Romania (Please let her know by writing to: hetti.benedek@yandex.com)

All info as to how donations are being managed and used is posted HERE.

For anyone wanting further details, please write to hetti.benedek@yandex.com



For more in Romanian (except where indicated), please see Digi24, Digi24 again, EVZ, PRO TV, Realitatea, Nasul TV, Gândul, Romania Libera, Hotnews, Basta!Gaz (in French), InfoIinsider.ro, Epoch Times, activist Hetti Benedek's FB page,  Frack off Romania (in English) and Observatorulph.ro


1st April UPDATE: Info from Hetti Benedek's FB wall: Hetti spoke to Cristian Furcelea yesterday. First off, he has managed to get the necessary discharge papers from the hospital, which (I guess) prove he was there and why, and, more importantly, the treatment he received. They are currently with his nephew, but once Cristian has them, they can be added to his file against the county police.

Also yesterday, Hetti sent the family 750 RON (approx. 170 euros) towards legal fees in their case against OMV-Petrom. The search for a pro bono lawyer continues, so if anyone has any connections for that, please contact Hetti either via FB or at hetti.benedek@yandex.com.

Further news is that a formal complaint filed by activists from Ploiesti to the county police on behalf of Cristian Furcelea has been answered. Signed by George Dinica at Prahova County Police Inspectorate, the response repeats that they were not responsible for Cristian's arrest, subsequent beating, etc., but does not 'exclude' the possibility that the police team could have been sent from another area or county. There will be a full police investigation. Let's hope they will do what needs to be done without bias, and those found to have carried out such a brutal act dealt with appropriately.

2nd April UPDATE: Activist Hetti Benedek received the hospital discharge papers for Cristian Furcelea today, where you can read in black and white that he had been beaten up. Great, right? Wrong. This is Absurdistan, after all. It seems that the hospital discharge document is invalid. Why? Because it has been replaced by a NEW discharge document. This is the OLD one that hasn't been in administrative circulation for 4 years. Cristian must be in possession of a document called HIPOCRATE which is used on a national scale these days. Absolutely insane. WHY would a hospital give a document to a patient proving his admission, discharge, diagnosis and treatment that is no longer valid throughout the entire country, so useless, unless that was the plan. A nice sowing of obstacles... Does Mr Furcelea now have to take on the health service as well as the police and OVM-Petrom? Come on. Give the guy a break.

In this latest update, Hetti also adds that she has sent donations that cover half the lawyer's fees in the case against the county police so far. The family DESPERATELY need a pro bono lawyer, so if anyone has any connections, please contact Hetti.

More news as it happens (and bravo Hetti!).

2nd April, 23h:  Hetti (not only activist now, but super-sleuth extraordinaire) found out earlier today that if the 'old' papers from the hospital are signed by a doctor, they are accepted in a court of law. Amazingly enough, they ARE signed by a doctor, so thank goodness for that!


Posté par Sarah in Romania à 16:06 - Commentaires [2] - Permalien [#]

25 mars 2014

Happy Birthday, dear Ana Blandiana!

ana1(Photo source) How difficult it is to write about Ana Blandiana, one of Romania's most outstanding contemporary poets (and my favourite), for I cannot find the words deep enough nor rich enough to describe her. With every bit of the country of my heart that gets destroyed and abused, my faith in humanity dies a little. People like Ana Blandiana, Doina Cornea, Ion Varlam, the not-long deceased Vasile Paraschiv, the much-mourned Cicerone Ionescu and others like them bring that faith back to life again....

I must admit to having become something of an 'Ana-groupie' over the last fourteen years. Sighetu Marmatiei, Bucharest, Paris... Buying her (translated) books, getting them signed and meeting her is always a joy, for wherever she is, that incredible warmth and that lovely smile simply overwhelm everyone and everything else within a two mile radius. Her humanity and her goodness are so enveloping that she lights up an entire room. Her courage through such unthinkable times, her tableaux of honesty, decency and fate painted through the words of her poetry and her constant battling for freedom make her a rarity. The world needs more Ana Blandianas. Far more.

If the name 'Ana Blandiana' draws a blank for anyone out there, let's nip that in the bud at once!

ana2(Photo source) Otilia Valeria Coman was born on 25th March, 1942 in Timisoara. When she was fifteen, she and a group of school friends who would read poetry to each other decided to have a contest on who could come up with the best pseudonym. Otilia put Ana together with Blandiana (the name of her mother's village near Vintu de Jos in Alba County) to rhyme and ended up winning the contest. Sending two poems to a magazine in Cluj (Tribunal) under the newly found pen-name, they were both published. However, afraid of getting into trouble for using a false name, Otilia wrote to the magazine admitting it was a nom de plume. One of the editors, obviously recognising her talent, replied: "Your name is staying as it is. From now on, you are Ana Blandiana." And that, as they say, was that. Ana Blandiana was born.

She described what happened next in an interview in 2003 with Naomi Frandzen of Georgetown University (Washington DC):

"Unfortunately, within two weeks, the authorities of Oradea had found out who I was (remember I was just a child of 15 or 16) and sent a memo to all literary publications across the country. After ‘89, this very memo was published in a collection of documents that I read only recently in the archives of Iasi stating, "We call your attention to the fact that the daughter of the enemy of the people, Gheorghe Coman, currently in prison, is hiding under the name Ana Blandiana and should not be published." This was my first ban. After '89, I remember saying in an interview (which later became famous) that the paradox of my destiny was that I was known as a banned writer before I was even known as a writer. No one knew who I was, I had only published two poems and yet the whole literary community knew that there was a little girl who was censored..."

Her father, Gheorghe (1915-1964) was originally a high school teacher who became a priest when he was forbidden to teach, and spent many years in communist prisons. He died in an accident a couple of days after his release through a general amnesty. Her father's influence is not only seen in her intrinsically spiritual vision of existence, but also in her dissidence and independence of thought.

Marrying essayist Romulus Rusan in 1960, Ana studied at the Babeș-Bolyai University in Cluj from 1963-7. After graduation, she settled in Bucharest and worked as a literary magazine editor and fine arts librarian. Ten years later, she was able to write full-time - not only poetry and prose fiction but also regular columns for cultural newspapers. From 1974-91, she wrote for the major weekly Revista Literara, with a number of gaps during which the Ceausescu government censored the publication of her work. 

ana totul(Image source) In 1984, Ana Blandiana's unforgettable poem 'Totul' ('Everything' - see HERE in English with explanations) was briefly published in the literary magazine Amfiteatru. 'Totul' was a list of elements of daily life in Bucharest at the time, contrasting the 'official' view of life in Romania with the peoples' perception of its monotonous drabness and gloom. The upshot was the withdrawal of Amfiteatru's edition within hours of publication and the firing of all editors. Nevertheless, the poem appeared in translation in Western media and also had limited underground circulation in Romania.

In 1988, she was denounced to the authorities as being the author of "Motanul Arpagic", a thinly disguised fable which ridiculed the Conducator, represented by a tomcat (hers, in fact!). Although she was not arrested, she became a virtual prisoner in her own home. Her post was restricted, her phone cut off, she was put under constant Securitate surveillance and her visitors were intimidated. These conditions would probably have gone on for a great deal longer had Ceausescu not been overthrown in December 1989. Restrictions were then lifted and the Securitate surveillance car parked in front of her house finally disappeared.

Ana Blandiana's stature in Romania in the early '90s was of a greatly respected writer and a widely known voice of decency and freedom, honoured for her defiance and resistance. Fundamentally non-political, she nonetheless played several prominent roles during and after the lovilutie. A member of the provisional government briefly from 1991-3, she was president of a non-partisan  coalition of opposition interests. She was also president of the Romanian PEN Centre (today presided over by Magda Carneci) promoting literature and freedom of expression, which she helped organise after 1989.
Her works have won numerous prizes at home as well as the Herder Prize in Austria and international fellowships to the United States (the Iowa International Writing Programme) and Berlin (the German Arts Academy). Almost half of her 46 books have been translated into as many as 16 languages.
I Believe
 I believe that we are a botanic nation
Otherwise, where do we get this calmness
In which we await the shedding of our leaves?
Where from the courage
To start sliding ourselves on the sleep-toboggan
Close to death,
With the certainty
That we shall be
I believe that we are a botanic nation -
Whoever saw
A rebelling tree?
(from the Mascara Literary Review, translated by Daria Florea)

ana4(Photo source) Ana Blandiana and Romulus Rusan (creator of NGO Alianța Civică in 1990) are both known and much admired in Romania (and beyond) for the founding in 1993 of The Memorial to the Victims of Communism and to the Resistance at the notorious penitentiary in Sighetu Marmatiei, northern Maramures. Both the museum there and the International Centre for Studies into Communism (in Bucharest) have shattered the barriers of taboo on crucial topics and previously unexplored territory stimulating debate via symposia, seminars, workshops and round-table discussions.

"In Romania, we discovered that more than 200 revolts of farmers took place against forced collectivisation but had remained unknown to the public," says Ana Blandiana.

"Understanding what took place - the repression we felt for 50 years - one can understand the hangover from this period of totalitarianism in Romania, and why the country still struggles to establish the rule of law and a solid democracy," she adds.

The memorial's web-page says: "The greatest victory of communism, a victory dramatically revealed only after 1989, was to create people without a memory – a brainwashed new man unable to remember what he was, what he had, or what he did before communism.
The creation of the Memorial to the Victims of Communism and to the Resistance is a means of counteracting this victory, a means of resuscitating collective memory.
Made up of the Sighet Museum and the International Centre for Studies into Communism based in Bucharest, as well as holding Summer Schools, the Memorial is an institution of Memory, unique in that it is simultaneously an institute of research, museography and education. 
To the question, "Can memory be relearned?" the answer of the Memorial to the Victims of Communism and to the Resistance in Romania is a resounding "Yes".
And that, to me, sums up Ana Blandiana. Her soul-searching poems are deep contemplation on human fate and moral responsibility whilst love is her inspiration. Throughout it all, her generosity of heart, compassion and continual quest for truth, justice, freedom and democratic change have never waned. She was never tainted. There is only one Ana Blandiana. God bless her.
I have never run after words,
All I have sought
Was their long
Silver shadows,
Dragged by the sun through grass
Or drawn by the moon over the sea;
I have never hunted
Anything but the shadows of words -
It is very skilful hunting
Learned from old people
Who know
That within a word
Nothing is more precious
Than its shadow
And they no longer have a shadow,
The words that have no souls.

(from The Hour of Sand, Selected Poems 1969-1989, p.58, translated by Peter Jay and Anca Cristofovici)


Posté par Sarah in Romania à 15:09 - Commentaires [3] - Permalien [#]

22 mars 2014

David Croitor - 'dor' on canvas

rooves of Bucharest(Image source: David Croitor - Acoperisuri in Bucurestiul vechi) Not long ago and quite by chance, I fell upon the work of artist David Croitor on my Facebook newsfeed. Instantly charmed by his style, colours and subjects, I rushed off to find out more. Befriending him on FB, I discovered not only a deeply sensitive artist, but a very nice chap holding the brush.

Member of the Writers' and Artists' Association in Vatra Dornei (his home), the "Nicolae Tonitza" Art Association in Suceava and the Artists' Association in Mures, David Croitor was born in Suceava in 1958. He studied under artist Dimitrie Loghin (1910-1982) from 1978 and then Aurel Aniţei in Bucharest from 1981 before going on to graduate at the capital's Geology Faculty. His first solo exhibition was held at the University of Bucharest in 1986, which lead to many more. Since then, he has participated in many collective and personal exhibitions and, today, his work can be found in private collections in the UK, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Canada and the US. 

381529_4160483270419_1347415155_n(Image source: David Croitor) Favouring oil, there's definitely something of the Van Gogh in David's work. From villages to landscapes, still life to portraits, it is impossible to look away until you have soaked up the vibrance, the tenderness, that are present in each and every one.

David's inspiration is deeply rooted in his native Bucovina. The smell of newly stacked hay is almost overwhelming, the clip-clop of horses as clear as day and the old houses so touching in their colourful lopsidedness that they utterly melt your heart. From each deserted street, each neglected or abandoned home, each ricketty roof, hidden poetry is born.

courtyard(Image source: David Croitor) To Balcic, the rooves of Bucharest, a garden step, a field of sunflowers, the boats of Sozopol, wherever they take you, they are all a cry for home... Dor.

Beautiful. Passionate. Without exception.


For more of David's work, please visit his website HERE and/or his Facebook page HERE.




(Image source: David Croitor - Bucurestiul vechi , cartierul Uranus [demolat] u/p , 72/65 cm, 2010)










(Image source: David Croitor - Ponoarele, Mehedinti)





casa veche-croitor






(Image source: David Croitor - Casa Veche)









(Image source: David Croitor)



balcic poarta spre mare







(Image source: David Croitor - Balcic, poarta spre mare)


All images published with the kind permission of David Croitor. Thank you!

Posté par Sarah in Romania à 17:25 - Commentaires [4] - Permalien [#]

21 mars 2014

Book launch: 'Ultimul Nud' by Ellis Avery

ultimul nud launch (Image source) The launching of Ultimul Nud (The Last Nude) by Ellis Avery, translated into Romanian by translator and journalist (ex-Reuters) Roxana Dascalu at Libraria Humanitas near Cismigiu on April 1st at 19h promises to be full of surprises. A translator of prose and poetry for Lettre Internationale, the Romanian Writers' Union and Cultura magazine, this is Roxana's literary 'book' debut.

Hosted by Denisa Comănescu (poet and director of Humanitas Fiction since 2007), the evening will include an eight minute reading by promising young actress Ada Condeescu, a presentation by the head of the book's translation editors, another speaker yet to be divulged and a speech by Roxana herself on the 'pangs' of translation. If I know anything at all about Roxana, it'll be full of wit and honesty, so don't miss it! Also invited: Ioana Avădani, director of the Centre for Independent Journalism in Romania; journalist for AP Alison Mutler and Pavel Șușară, journalist, author, critic and art historian.

In what is still considered a pretty homophobic country, this is a brave debut for Roxana. As is the case in a number of other Eastern European countries, Romania remains socially conservative with regard to the rights of its gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens. In June last year, an amendment to Romania's new constitution backed by MPs and the Orthodox Church defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman uniquely, and only last week, the bill on same sex civil partnerships was unanimously ruled against by a parliamentary committee. Proposed by Green MP Remus Cernea, it met with staunch opposition from all parties in the Senate with just 2 votes in favour and 105 against, before being overwhelmingly rejected by the judicial Commission of Romania’s Chamber of Deputies. Cernea hopes to reintroduce the bill at a later date, although given the stiff resistence, it is unlikely to fare much better for some time yet.

Despite that, Romania has made progress in LGBT rights legislation since 2000. Over the last ten years, it has fully decriminalised homosexuality, introduced and enforced wide-ranging anti-discrimination laws (though how much they are upheld, I cannot say), equalised the age of consent and introduced laws against homophobic hate crimes. Furthermore, LGBT communities have become more visible in recent years, as a result of events such as Bucharest's annual GayFest Pride Parade and Cluj-Napoca's Gay Film Nights festival. In 2006, Romania was named by Human Rights Watch as one of five countries in the world that had made "exemplary progress in combating rights abuses based on sexual orientation or gender identity."

Having said that, The National Council for Combating Discrimination released a report, "Perceptions and Attitudes Regarding Discrimination in Romania" in April 2012. The results were pretty shocking and show there is still a long way to go:

  • 18% felt that homosexuals were discriminated very little.
  • 17% believed sexual minorities were badly discriminated.
  • 31% responded that they would not feel comfortable at all around a homosexual person and 30% would feel only slightly comfortable.
  • 63% stated they would be very much bothered if a same-sex person would try to make advances toward them.
  • 54% stated they would never have a meal with a homosexual.
  • 48% stated they would be very disturbed if they found out that a family member was gay.
  • 40% would be equally disturbed if their children had a gay teacher.

On 7 November 2012, the Romanian Institute for Evaluation and Strategy released a three part study. In part II, the study notes the following level of tolerance toward homosexuals:

  • 79.7% of those questioned would not want a homosexual neighbor
  • 53% preferred that homosexuality be outlawed (compared to 62% in 2006)

last nude (Photo source) Books by known gay and lesbian authors have been selling in Romania for years - Anais Nin, Edith Wharton, Alice Walker and Maya Angelou spring to mind. I won't even bother to mention Oscar Wilde, DH Lawrence and Virginia Woolf (whose works don't come under the LGBT flag, but were either gay or bisexual in any case). Carturesti bookstores have had LGBT book sections since last summer. The arrival of Ultimul Nud in Romanian will, I hope, lead to a little more understanding, an opening of minds and an increase in tolerance that was so lacking in the 2012 reports. Either that, or it'll go completely the other way and cause an utter scandal... Whichever way it goes, it will hit the press, get people talking, lead to debate and that can only be for the greater good, right? The days of taboo, single-minded ignorance and the refusal to accept those different from oneself when it comes to sexuality should be well and truly over at this point in time, as countries all over the world and various states in the US (excluding the bible-bashing belt) welcome same sex unions.

But back to the book, winner of the 2013 American Library Association, Stonewall Book and Barbara Gittings Literature Awards, and an excellent review from The Historical Novel Society:

In this stunningly intimate reimagining of an important year in the life of Tamara de Lempicka, we follow the young woman who was her muse for several famous paintings, in particular La Belle Rafaela. On her way from the United States to Italy, Rafaela Fano stole away to France to escape an arranged marriage. Destitute and nearing desperation, a chance meeting with Tamara turned into a lucrative job, and eventually a relationship between the two women.

Once La Belle Rafaela was finished and set to appear at the Salon, selling even before the event, two mysterious art enthusiasts begin to vie for Tamara’s remaining works – especially the ones featuring Rafaela. Mostly told through Rafaela’s perspective, we find in her an honest protagonist, sympathetically portrayed and easily liked. Tamara’s character, however, is an intriguing mix of credulous wonder and grudging admiration that has the reader questioning her motives.

Free April 1st at 19h? Then get thee to Humanitas near Cismigiu!


For more on this event, please see Adevarul, Ziarul de duminica, DiaCaf, Bookuria, Catchy, Hotnews and Herald.

Posté par Sarah in Romania à 17:08 - Commentaires [4] - Permalien [#]

28 février 2014

The neighbours, the cats and the dog-catchers... :( :(

dogcatcherThere is horrific news this evening of an attack on 16 cats in Bucharest - attacks by animals of the two-legged variety I hasten to add. For now, it all still remains rather vague, but here is what happened as I understand it:

Once upon a time, an elderly lady who lived in an apartment block at str. Arad nr. 49 in Bucharest looked after 16 pussycats. Some stayed with her indoors whilst others were fed in the courtyard. Unfortunately, the lady became very ill and is currently in hospital. Her nephew either moved into the flat or was going backwards and forwards in any case, and let the cats all out into the street. Apparently, he's not much of a cat fan.

It is not clear how long the cats were out there, but the neighbours started to complain. And SOMEONE contacted the dog-catchers. Dog-catchers? For cats? Or maybe the person simply didn't know the difference between the two. You'd think the dog-catcher would know. In any case, the dog-catchers showed up and... oh God... shot the cats with tranquilisers, threw poison (furadan) over them, chucked them all in a cage next to a bunch of dogs and took them off to a dog shelter.

Fourteen of the sixteen cats died, either from the tranquilisers, the poison or from shock.

The two little darlings that survived were rescued from the shelter by a lady after the story broke, and taken to the vets. One of them, a Burmese (a BURMESE!!!) was soaked in furadan.

Apart from the initial horror of such heinous brutality (both on the part of the neighbours AND on the part of the dog-catchers), this raises some VERY worrying questions:

1) Is it legal for dog-catchers to concern themselves with CATS?

2) Is it legal for CATS to be taken by dog-catchers to shelters for DOGS?!

3) The lady who rescued the cats from the dog shelter was apparently asked to sign an adoption paper. Whaaaat?!? They were cats NOT dogs. Since when did dog shelters have contracts for adopting cats?!

Law 258 /26-09-2013 stipulates management for homeless dogs. Nowhere does it mention cats.

Now, the director of the Politia Comunitara in sector 1, Andrei Mihail, is asking for the two surviving cats to be returned to the shelter for adoptions are not permitted until 7 days have passed. Mais...je rêve... ou quoi?! It's one irregularity after another resulting in one grotesque aberration.

This is not the first time such a story has shocked animal-lovers (and even those who aren't). Not that long ago, an elderly blind man in Bucharest was forced by 'authorities' to take his cats into a field on the outskirts of the city and LEAVE THEM THERE. He couldn't see, but he HEARD them being mauled apart by dogs.

What is happening in the city of my heart? What has caused individuals from such a warm and generous nation to do such evil things? Were they beaten as children? Denied dolls and teddybears? Forced to play soldiers? Or are they just weak, pathetic people who have no other way to get their kicks? Empty beer cans where their hearts should be? For the last few years, we have constantly read about the appalling abuse piled on the long-suffering street dogs. And as if that's not bad enough, now it's cats. Cats!

This is a story that needs distributing and more info is required. What happened to those 14 little souls certainly doesn't seem to have been legal, no matter which way you chew on it. Heads should roll. The nephew, the neighbours, the dog-catchers, the local police, City Hall - whoever has a gramme of responsibility should feel the pain of furadon splashed all over them and the powerless terror of a tranquiliser-overdose whilst lying in a cage left to die. It is too late for the 14 angels murdered today. The 2 who miraculously survived, I hope, will be allowed to remain with their kind rescuer for the rest of their days. And I hope to God that the poor old lady lying in hospital NEVER gets to know what an idiot she has for a nephew (if she hasn't already twigged), nor, above all, what happened to the cats she loved and fed.

Today I wanted to write a nostalgic blog about 1 Martie, the first day of spring. Instead, I end up writing a horror story. A shameful story. A story that shows a mentality so cruel, so warped, that it is beyond description.

I look at my own cats and thank the powers that be that they live in a civilised country...


Posté par Sarah in Romania à 21:55 - Commentaires [3] - Permalien [#]

08 février 2014

Farewell to Cicerone Ionitoiu

cicerone ionitoiu(Photo source) Oh, how sad... I have just seen a post on the Facebook page of La Maison Roumaine by its president Alexandre Herlea on the recent death of writer, resistance fighter and political prisoner under the communist regime Cicerone Ionitoiu. Here is a translation of Mr Herlea's words:

'Cicerone Aristotel Traian Ionitoiu, the great Romanian anti-communist resistant, died in Paris today, 26th January 2014.

La Maison Roumaine announces the death of one of the most representative of Romanian anti-communist resistance fighters at Hôpital St Antoine with immense sadness.

Born on 8th May 1924 in Craiova, he joined in the fight against soviet occupiers and their allies immediately after the Second World War. From a modest peasant family, he was a student of history and part of the youth leaders of the PNT (
Parti National Paysan Roumain) - the largest democratic party in the country. With a courage and determination that seemed to have no bounds, Ionitoiu tirelessly lead the fight for the freedom, democracy and dignity of the Romanian people.

Arrested by the communists, he was sentenced to a total of 26 years - he did 10. Released in 1964 when pressure from the West opened up the political prisons, he continued his fight first in Romania and then, after 1979, in France where he sought refuge following intervention from President Président Valérie Giscard d'Estaing.

ionitoiu(Photo source) In Paris, he continued to be extremely active. After the death of Nicolas Penesco (1982) he took over the position of leader of the PNT in exile, organising an "Association des Anciens Détenus Politiques Roumains" together with Remus Radina, and above all, developing an extraordinary activity for the denunciation of crimes committed by the communists in Romania. Ionitoiu wrote a number of highly impressive works, amongst them: "Tombes sans croix" (Graves without crosses), the "Dictionnaire des victimes du communisme" (Dictionary of the victims of communism), "La persécution de l'Eglise en Roumanie" (The persecution of the church in Romania), "La résistance armée des Roumains dans la montagne" (The armed Romanian resistance of the mountains) (1944 - 1960). His last book, "Figures de légende" (Faces of legend) appeared in Decembre 2014.

After 1989, he took an active role in the rebirth of the PNT, helped its president Corneliu Coposu and denounced the acts of those who were really in power in Romania: the political police and the nomenklatura. With firmness and lucidity, he refused any form of collaboration with either.

Cicerone Ionitoiu was a credit to Romania and to his generation. May he rest in peace. La Maison Roumaine sends its sincere condolences to his loved ones.'

ionitoiu2(Photo source) Almost more upsetting than his death (to me) was that had I not seen Mr Herlea's post, I would not have known he had left us. The Romanian press hardly batted an eyelid except for Adevarul who published a good piece by Alex Stefanescu. Surely, the passing of such a man could not have gone unnoticed. Someone who remained faithful to his conscience and moral values in such an unequal struggle that resulted in exile, suffered such inhumane brutality at the hands of the communists, lived (and survived) the horrors of just about every jail in Romania including Jilava, Râmnicu Sărat (article by Ionitoiu) and Pitesti, and then devoted his entire life to documenting their heinous crimes, surely deserves better. Could it be that he really is simply unknown in his native homeland? If so, then for shame.

Eye on Romania says that it was mentioned in "three small newspapers - all of them just reprinting a press release from the PNTCD party. No additional research or background material was provided as the “journalists” literally just printed the press release word for word." How disgusting. Please do read Sam's excellent post on Ionitoiu - it's absolutely overflowing with information.

What a travesty that the loss of this incredible man was not given more importance in the very country for which he waged such a courageous war against the evils of an oppressive, insane regime for liberty and the future of our children. Instead, I learn of it from the president of an association here in Paris and an American living in Cluj... Thank you, Romanian press for your absence of respect, effort and  embarrassing indifference.

May Cicerone Ionitoiu rest in peace at last - and may all those like him who tirelessly fought for the freedom and dignity of the Romanian people not get too dizzy turning in their graves as they see what has become of the population for whom they so relentlessly battled...

For more, please see Contributors, Revista 22 (very brief), Adevarul, IICMER (the Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and the Memory of the Romanian Exile) and Război întru Cuvânt. Hotnews and Mediafax, what happened to you?


Posté par Sarah in Romania à 19:14 - Commentaires [5] - Permalien [#]

Gabriela Moga Lazar

affiche_Angers_GML_vestigii_negru I have just received an e-mail from Simina Lazar who is currently organising an exhibition in Angers of some of the wonderful tapestries created by her mother, artist Gabriela Moga Lazar. She writes,

"Moi, je continue avec l’organisation des  expositions de tapisseries de  ma mère, Gabriela Moga Lazar. Maintenant  j’organise une exposition à Angers (la cité de la renaissance de la tapisserie). 

Il y a quelques années,  elle a eu déjà une exposition aux environs d’Angers. A l’époque, la conseillère de la région pour le Patrimoine avait beaucoup aimé ses tapisseries et c’est elle qui les a proposé maintenant à la Mairie d’Angers..   

La Mairie d’Angers m’a accordé l’espace d’exposition de la Tour Saint Aubin pour la période 21 février - 3 mars. Le vernissage est un jour avant : jeudi 20 février.

Je t’envoie l’invitation pour le cas où, par hasard, tu arrives dans la région d’Angers…  (Viens – c’est une très belle ville !)  Ou si jamais tu connais quelqu’un qui pourrait être intéressé par la tapisserie, invite-le !  Je serai reconnaissante pour une éventuelle relation.  Et je serais très heureuse, si tu mettais une annonce de l’exposition sur ton blog…"

And so, here it is! Unfortunately, I cannot seem to add the invitation here, but if you'd like one, please do contact me by e-mail, and I'll send it to you.

Please see THIS article (in French) written by Gabriela Moga Lazar herself and published in 2013 about the moment when craftsmanship becomes art.

quatre-saisons(Image source - Les Quatres Saisons) For the Romanian community of Paris the works of Mme Lazar should be familiar, for exhibitions are certainly not a rarity. THIS one took place only last June at ICR along with others at the Cité Internationale des Arts (2013) and the Grand Palais (2012) to name but a few. Time for the non-Romanian to share in the beauty of her talent and savoir-faire. With elements full of floral, sometimes zoomorphic and often geometric symbols, her compositions are usually vertical, respecting a lovely axis of symmetry and parallelism. There is, though, a clear evolution also towards the abstract in her work remarkable in its freshness.

Gabriela Moga Lazar (1926-2012) was born in Transylvania. She studied in Cluj and specialised in the art of tapestry. She went on to work in Iasi where her profession as teacher and partnership with the ethnographer Emilia Pavel of the Ethnography Museum of Moldova lead her to develop a new trend in the art of Romanian tapestry, with creations that juxtaposed modern art with folk art. Professor at the Pedagogical School and the School of Folk Art, she taught generations of students, training them to appreciate the true values of traditional Romanian artwork.

36017(Image source: Fleur dans le temps) Her prize-winning work, both professionally and artistically, has been the subject of a host of articles. Newspapers have called her "the messenger of the Romanian soul".

If that doesn't tempt you, I don't know what will!

Meanwhile, here in Paris at Montrouge, the Town Hall is busy organising another collective exhibition themed "La Sagesse" to run from 7-16 February, with a vernissage on the first evening which looks fascinating.


For more on Gabriela Moga Lazar and exhibitions both current and future, please see Simina's website (in French) HERE.

Further interesting articles can be found in Revista Luceafarul (Romanian) written by ethnographer Emilia Pavel (2011), Rasunetul (Romanian) by Olga Lucuţa (2010) and Art-Contemporain.com (French). Check out this video too, showing some of Mme Lazar's beautiful compositions.





(Image source - Ombre de fleurs)













gabriela lazar1


(Image source - Reine de la Nuit)























(Image source - Fête)


















(Image source - Fleur du jardin)

























(Image source - Arbre de la Moldavie)















13th February: The exhibition in Angers from 21 Feb - 3 March has been postponed for a later date due to illness. Wishing Simina a gentle and stress-free recovery from us all.


Posté par Sarah in Romania à 17:32 - Commentaires [1] - Permalien [#]

30 janvier 2014

SOS!! Bucharest's Jewish State Theatre in tatters

jewish theatre1(Photo source) It was a tragedy waiting to happen that could so easily have been avoided - and another example of 'merge si asa' from mayor oprescu... City Hall has been well aware of the urgent work required at the theatre for quite some time but did they move? Don't be daft. As recently as last year, the theatre accountant was informed that City Hall would prioritise renovation in 2013. But 2013 has been and gone and nothing has been done. Voilà, the result.

jewish theatre2(Photo source) On Saturday night, severe snowstorms destroyed 80m, ie 30%, of roof at Bucharest's Jewish State Theatre directly above the stage, causing untold damage - see photos HERE. Firefighters spent several hours securing the area. Passers-by and parked cars in the street below were also at risk from falling debris along with a kindergarten next door. Continuous blizzard conditions haven't helped matters. Today, the stage is immersed in water, the theatre itself soaked, the basement flooded and hundreds of sets completely destroyed. The freezing elements typical of the season threaten to further damage all that lies within. The building itself is now isolated and all access forbidden due to danger of electrocution.

suspendat(Photo source) Needless to say, all performances have had to be cancelled, including an entire event in memory of those who perished in the Holocaust due to have opened on 25th January. Anyone who bought tickets will find them valid for future performances, says the official page on FaceBook.

suspendat2(Photo source) The prestigious Jewish State Theatre, a historic monument, was built as a clinic by Dr. Iuliu Barasch towards the end of the XIXc. The theatre building (Teatru Baraşeum or Sala Baraşeum) was used from the early 1930s as a Yiddish-language theatre, originally under private management.

The theatre continued to operate during the early years of the Second World War, during which time it became a  shelter for Jewish actors and playwrights from Eastern Europe who had been banned from other cultural institutions. During the war years, the Baraşeum Jewish Theatre premiered over thirty productions, about half of them directed by Sandru Eliad. Although officially exclusively Jewish, at times various Gentile intellectuals helped the company illegally, especially with translations; this was well enough known to provoke indignation from at least one anti-semitic newspaper. Some Gentiles, mostly intellectuals, showed support for the theatre by coming to performances. (Wikipedia

teatrul2(Photo source) The theatre was established as the State Jewish Theatre (Teatrul Evreiesc de Stat, TES) in 1948 and has operated in the former Baraşeum building almost continually since then. It was the first state-operated Yiddish theatre in the world; a second Romanian State Jewish Theatre was established in Iaşi in 1949, but disappeared in 1964. 

No investment has been made in the building since 1955. With historic monument status, the STATE is responsible for it (legea 422). Gigel has promised to resolve the situation as rapidly as possible. "The building of the State Jewish Theatre is not administered by the ministry but as it hosts a very important cultural institution, I will not hesitate to be involved in finding a solution," he told Mediafax news agency. It seems that the theatre falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Tourism - why, I cannot begin to fathom.

baraseum(Photo source) It is an incredibly successful theatre and has seen some of Romania's greatest actors including Alexandru Finti, Beate Fredanov, Willy Ronea, M. Bradu, Jeny Shmilovici, Agnia Bogoslava, the Gamberto sisters, Moni Ghelerter, Nicolae Stroe and Mircea Crisan at its footlights. See THIS from Romania Libera on a documentary by Radu Gabrea, "Si s-au dus ca vântul..." The potential loss whether one is Jewish or not is simply unimaginable, for it is a cultural heart for history, memory and patrimony alike. It is one of the few living remnants of the once vibrant Yiddish culture in Eastern Europe and still performs plays in the Yiddish language.

Here are some more recent performances: 'Tragedie dentara', 'Exil în pamântul uitarii', 'Papasarul', 'Yentl' and 'Hoţii de frumuseţe'. Please also take a look at THIS wonderful interview given by the theatre's director since 2012, international award-winning actress Maia Morgenstern.

teatru3(Photo source) Ms. Morgenstern, desperately trying to protect the building from yet further damage, has said that no 'concrete' response of the whens and hows has yet been forthcoming from City Hall. The Inspectorate for Construction visited to establish a 'strategy' for what is to be done, but it all takes time - and time is something that the structurally ailing theatre clearly doesn't have...

Leni Caler

Citeste mai mult: adevarul.ro/cultura/istorie/baraseum-teatrul-vremea-holerei-1_50b9f36b7c42d5a663ad287d/index.html

In the meantime, please sign THIS petition initiated by Oana Monica Nae addressed to mayor oprescu demanding that the theatre be saved from ruin. The more signatures there are, the more pressure is put upon the authorities.


Alexandru Finţi, Beate Fredanov, Willy Ronea, M. Bradu, N. Stroe, Mircea Crişan - See more at: http://www.b365.ro/m-morgenstern-se-cauta-solutii-pentru-prevenirea-unui-dezastru-si-mai-mare-la-teatrul-evreiesc_201570.html#sthash.DqIcAcVn.dpuf
Alexandru Finţi, Beate Fredanov, Willy Ronea, M. Bradu, N. Stroe, Mircea Crişan - See more at: http://www.b365.ro/m-morgenstern-se-cauta-solutii-pentru-prevenirea-unui-dezastru-si-mai-mare-la-teatrul-evreiesc_201570.html#sthash.DqIcAcVn.dpuf
Alexander Finti, Beate Fredanov Willy Ronea, M. Bradu , N. Stroe, Mircea Crisan. - See more at: http://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?depth=1&hl=fr&rurl=translate.google.com&sl=ro&tl=en&u=http://www.b365.ro/m-morgenstern-se-cauta-solutii-pentru-prevenirea-unui-dezastru-si-mai-mare-la-teatrul-evreiesc_201570.html&usg=ALkJrhjX_DZFR_3UY76RV2Lag91_6ZfogA#sthash.sAcfQB42.dpufon its boards. The potential loss of such a culture centre so dear to the hearts of both jews and gentiles alike is simply unthinkable. Horrifying to see some of the comments on FB, type 'the jews have money - let them pay for their theatre'. For shame. This theatre is a huge part of Romanian history both in terms of culture and patrimony.Maia Morgenstern, the theatre's director who is trying desperately to find solutions to protect the monument from further damage, said that no concrete (no pun intended) response as to how long reparation would take had been received from City Hall so far... The State Inspectorate for Construction visited the site to develop a 'strategy' for what is to follow, but it all takes time - something that clearly the structurally ailing theatre doesn't have.

Here is an article from today's Jerusalem Post:

Roof collapses on Romania’s Jewish theater

By JTA, 01/30/2014 10:49

The 19th century building is considered by some to be "the most important institution of Romanian Jewry."

State Jewish Theater, Bucharest, Romania.

State Jewish Theater, Bucharest, Romania. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

BUCHAREST — Heavy snows caused the partial collapse of the roof of the State Jewish Theater, paralyzing one of Romanian Jewry’s foremost cultural institutions.

A snowstorm on Jan. 25 devastated about a third of the roof of the 19th century building that houses the theater, the institution’s director, Maia Morgenstern, told JTA.

“Unfortunately, the part of the roof that collapsed was directly over the stage area, so performances cannot go on,” she said. No one was hurt in the collapse, but now “the water keeps pouring and pouring into the building and part of it is completely flooded.”

According to Morgenstern, “City officials have already pledged to provide resources for fixing the situation, but this building has been neglected for so long, it needs to be reconstructed, not just renovated.”

She was not sure when and even if the theater would be operational again.

Between 100 and 200 people attend the theater’s performances four nights a week, Morgenstern said.

“I think it is one of the most important if not the most important institutions of Romanian Jewry,” she said.


See more from the international press here: Washington Post, Jewish Business News, News Channel 6, GlobalPost, Daily Motion and USA Today. 

More news as it comes...


Posté par Sarah in Romania à 18:44 - Commentaires [0] - Permalien [#]

22 janvier 2014

In memory. And in anger.

aura and ion4(Photo source: Roza Zah) I don't want to go into details of the dramatic forced landing of a plane (misleadingly reported as a 'crash' by the majority of Romanian press) in the Apuseni mountains near Cluj on Monday afternoon. You can find reports all over the web. Suffice to say, this is another affirmation of "Copilul cu multe moașe rămâne cu buricul netăiat" (too many cooks spoil the broth) with tragic consequences underlining a fatal allergy to responsibility, accountability and professionalism in positions where dedication should be a prime factor....

On board the fated plane were two pilots and a medical team of five on their way to Oradea to perform surgical resection on a liver that had to be taken to Bucharest for organ donation.

aura and adrian(Photo source) All seven passengers survived the moment of impact itself, but two tragically succumbed whilst waiting for emergency services that took a mind-boggling SIX HOURS to show up. I do not want to speak of the dispicable bungling, the unbelievable ineptitude and the scandalous arrogance of Radu Stroe (Interior Sinister) and Ramona Manescu (Sinister of Transport) either for it would simply unleash a great spewing of invectives on my part (and perhaps yours too). You can read it all HERE in any case.

The five surviving passengers are currently hospitalised, reported to be stable and under constant medical supervision.

An enquiry is currently underway to clarify WHY it took so long for help to arrive at the crash site. So far, reports say Ponta has fired the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MAI) Secretary of State Catalin Chiper, and asked the Transport Minister to replace two managers (general and operations) at ROMATSA (the state-owned company that administers air traffic services in Romania). He seems to like Stroe too much to get rid of him, however. 

"My first conclusion based on the report drawn up by Deputy Premier Gabriel Oprea is that there were unacceptable deficiencies in the search and rescue operations. In three important institutions, the Interior Ministry (MAI), ROMATSA and STS, things went unacceptably slowly", said Ponta. "Irrespective of subjective reasons such as human error and unfavourable weather, on the basis of the report I have in front of me I believe the intervention on Monday was a failure," he continued.

Too bloody right it was a failure.

The report presented yesterday by Deputy Prime Minister Gabriel Oprea shows that ROMATSA did not take the "necessary measures" to establish the whereabouts of the crash site, begin search operations or ask for help and backup from the Ministry of Defense’s Air Operations Centre. Realitatea reports that the pilot (not Adrian Iovan) was asked by ROMATSA to turn off the 406 alarm signal because the sound was bothering them. Whaaaaat?!?!? In other words, standard procedure was NOT followed. In yet more other words, systems meant to protect people are overseen by morons. See more on the heads currently rolling (not enough of them by far) HERE and see HERE re. Ion Burlui, the head of the General Inspectorate for Emergency Situations (IGSU) resigning, but Stroe not having the same decency. Au contraire, Radu Stroe has stated that he has no intention of taking such action, although he 'regrets the tragedy happened during his term in office'. How big of him...

The pilot Adrian Iovan, 55, was well-known (and controversial) and had 16,000 hours of flying experience with companies such as Blue Air and TAROM under his belt. He died of hypothermia and trauma from multiple fractures. Radu Zamfir, a doctor and passenger, credited Iovan for saving the lives of those on board.

aura ion2(Photo image) The second victim was Aurelia (Aura) Ion, a 23-year-old fifth-year student at Institutul Medico-Militar who had volunteered to accompany the medical team. She is reported by the Romanian press to have died of hypothermia and respiratory complications, though this is yet to be confirmed at post-mortem. If the emergency services had found her earlier, IF they had done their jobs, followed procedure and maintained standards, she would have probably survived. She was young and healthy after all. So many 'ifs'. See THIS and weep.

Aura has been promoted to Lieutenant posthumously and lies tonight in the military chapel. Tomorrow she will be buried with military honours. Candles glow and wreaths have been left for her and Adrian Iovan at the Statuia Aviatorilor (Eroilor Aerului) in Bucharest. Mourners have been paying their respects all the afternoon, amongst them singer Mirabela Dauer, Gheorghe Gheorghiu, Marcel Pavel and gymnast coach Octavian Bellu. At least the military have given her more respect and consideration than the Minister of the Interior, the emergency services and the rest of the muppets who should have kept her safe.

RESPECTAURAIONA(Image source) The Respect Aura Ion Facebook page is an emotional place to be - her death has touched the hearts of a nation. Hundreds of thousands of messages have been flooding in continually - condolence, sympathy, comfort, admiration. In one day alone, 30,000 people visited out of respect for this selfless young woman who had paid for the inept running of her country and the general je m'en foutism with her life. Dumnezeu sa aiba grija de sufletul ei.

How decent (and normal) it would be to have a scholarship created in Aura Ion's honour. That is what people do in civilised countries at moments of unnecessary, shameful loss that could have been avoided had people done their jobs. While parasites enjoy illicitly acquired millions, Aura Ion enrolled to be a VOLUNTEER to give rather than take. There should be a MASSIVE outpouring of love, sympathy and support for her family and I hope a foundation or a scholarship in her memory AT THE VERY LEAST will be established. Anything less would be an offence, not to mention an admission of the blatant bungling stupidity, criminal incompetence and supreme arrogance rife across the whole spectrum of the political and ruling class.

aura ion3(Photo source: Roza Zah) Today's Romania did not deserve her. It does not deserve selfless, generous-hearted, compassionate and altruistic people. There are, I know, more of them than the Pontas and Stroes. But it is this piddly minority of Pontas and Stroes who have the clout whilst those like Aura Ion must fight to survive in such a climate (or leave)...

If you would like to DO something that may end up having some kind of effect, PLEASE sign THIS petition currently at 3,090 signatures demanding the firing of all those responsible for the plane crash in which Aura and Adrian lost their lives. Aleodor Marian Francu, chief of ROMATSA, resigned this afternoon - not because he feels it's his fault in any way at all, but as a matter of principle. How sacrificial. Of course, once resigned, he and others equally guilty can wash their hands of the whole thing, avoiding any can-holding which could lead to possible jail time (if the justice system were to do its job properly). An attractive option.

ROMATSA Aleodor Marian Frâncu

Citeste mai mult: adev.ro/mztdre
ROMATSA Aleodor Marian Frâncu

Citeste mai mult: adev.ro/mztdre

Next week, this will be old news and after a flurry of firing a few one-minute wonders and beating chests, it'll all be forgotten - except by the survivors and those who grieve.

aura candles

(Photo source: Roza Zah)

For more info, please see Hotnews, Capitalism pe pâine, EVZ and Adevarul.

My thanks to 'Roza Zah' for the beautiful photographs taken at Statuia Aviatorilor this evening.


 News Update Thursday 23rd January

Radu Stroe the Interior Sinister has resigned. I guess this ex-securitate agent left feeling pretty pleased with himself, for he threw in the towel he said, out of 'honour'. Smug git. President Basescu signed the necessary blurb for his departure this afternoon. Delighted to see the back of him, but rather concerned this will mean he will not be held accountable.

Ponta continues to hold STS and ROMATSA entirely responsible for Monday's plane disaster and the subsequent loss of human lives.

The conclusions of the government report by VP Gabriel Oprea tell of immense gaffes and blunders, erroneous info, time-wasting and useless phone calls. That much is true. But as long as Ponta protects Stroe, Manescu and anyone else, it is purely subjective. ROMATSA is as guilty as sin but they are not the only ones in the massive anthill of quite brilliant incompetence. They will be the scapegoats though. I'm quite sure of that.

News continues to flood in re: all that went pear-shaped. Some of it is so insane you wonder whether the author was on drugs. Probably not. This is Absurdistan after all, where anything can happen.

For example, Capitalism pe pâine writes that ROMATSA refused a tracking software offered FREE by the UK and Germany, preferring to fork out 48,000 euros for a Romanian version (which was far from functional). Genius. Words just don't do it, do they.

TVR says that the authorities knew the plane had come down 15 minutes after impact, but bodged up search procedures - and when they finally set out, they had three different location co-ordinates... you couldn't make it up if you tried.

As time passes, we discover wide-eyed and disbelieving the huge structural deficiencies within the system (what system?) that lead to this terrible tragedy. There was such an accumulation of negligence and stupidity that one could be forgiven for thinking it a hilarious script for a new French farce. See HERE. There is NO question that jail-time should be served to those DIRECTLY involved for professional negligence and involuntary manslaughter. If there was a sentencing for idiocy, now would be the time.

plane seating(Photo source) Co-pilot Razvan Petrescu's condition meanwhile remains serious. He has suffered worrying thoracic and facial injuries (operated today for a broken nose) and will require further surgery on his lower limbs tomorrow. Three of the survivors are under constant observation and unable to be airlifted back to Bucharest for the time being. Sorin Ianceu (doctor at Spitalul Judeţean Oradea) has needed facial surgery; Cătălin Pivniceru (doctor at Spitalul Sfânta Maria din Bucureşti) has suffered broken ribs and facial trauma and Valentin Calu (surgeon) is suffering from thoracic trauma. Dr Radu Zamfir, was discharged from hospital yesterday according to Digi24. He will continue to be monitored at Institutul Clinic Fundeni where he works, however.

Aura Ion's post-mortem has revealed that she did NOT die of hypothermia as previously reported by the Romanian press who have been surmising and assuming all kinds of fiction from the very start, still insistent on calling the disaster a 'crash'.

aura funeral(Photo source) According to the SMURD chief in Bihor, Aura suffered a fractured cervical spine and massive abdominal haemorrhaging. From the moment of impact, poor Aura was probably tetraplegic. Her agony and terror for the hours she lay waiting for the emergency services to appear is unimaginable. They arrived too late to save her - and it's really no good anyone assuming that she couldn't have been saved anyway. Of course she could. She died hours after the crash - and had the medics arrived within the hour as they should have done, the likelihood is she'd still be alive to tell the tale, albeit paralysed (plausibly temporarily, depending on the damaged vertebrae).

Aura Ion's funeral took place in Bucharest today. Please see some of the photos HERE. The images are overwhelming with the pain of loss and grief, caused by an incompetent state with a warped vision of responsibility and professionalism. For shame.


Update: Friday 24th January

death cert(Photo source) Seems the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing. Aura Ion's death certificate contradicts the opinion of Bihor's SMURD chief who stated yesterday that she had died from a broken neck (fractured cervical vertebrae) and massive abdominal haemorrhage. He insisted more than once that hypothermia had not been a cause. The certificate written by Dr Georghe Vieru on the other hand reports that she died of hypothermia and thoracic trauma (ie. prolonged chest-wall compression).

I simply cannot understand how the chief of SMURD could have said one thing and been SO emphatic that hypothermia was NOT a cause, whilst the paperwork done by Dr Vieru says the contrary. So, either the SMURD chief didn't know what the hell he was talking about and should have kept quiet (though he was there on site) or Dr Viaru has written a Mickey Mouse post-mortem. And why would he do that?

dobitoc(Photo source: Tudor Postelnicu, 1989: "Am fost un dobitoc!" Radu Stroe, 2014: "Sunt un dobitoc!") So much fiction doing the rounds. So much guff. In the end it doesn't matter a jot. Had the emergency team shown up earlier, she'd still be alive today. Had people done their jobs, this whole sorry tragedy would never even have happened.

So far, four senior officials including stroe have resigned or been fired. That's not nearly enough. People WILL pay. The question is, will it be the right ones or will it be the usual tune of the little people getting whacked while the real perpetrators lean back in their leather chairs and plonk their feet up on their desks for another day of useless ineptitude?

"The government generally does nothing, and in this case they did nothing to locate the plane. A woodcutter had to find them," aviation professor Nicolae Serban Tomescu said. "The rescue operation was like Swiss cheese. There were holes everywhere."

Local villagers and a woodcutter are now known to have found the plane and its survivors 4 hours after it was forced to land 1,400 metres above sea level in a forest - that was TWO HOURS BEFORE the medical teams showed up, reportedly ill-equipped. It begs belief. Wonderful stories of determination are coming in such as THIS one where a doctor from Cluj says it was the villagers who were the real heros, NOT the emergency services. It was the villagers themselves who wrapped the passengers in their own coats despite the freezing temperatures. In the icy rain, with snow to their knees and sometimes waists, they made stretchers, lit fires for warmth, immobilised fractures with their clothes and branches. They were determined in saving who could be saved. True acts of selflessness.

Meanwhile, the stories about what the emergency services got up to on arrival are so absurd that I'm not going to even bother commenting on them, much less link them. What I will say though is that the ridiculous '2010 protocol for CPR' mentioned by Adela Golea urgently needs to be revised. In addition, Cluj hospital, the idiots, have officially said that the survivors' conditions are favourable  due to the speed in which the medical teams acted. Excuse me while I howl with ironic mirth. 16 doctors, 17 assistants, 2 resident doctors, 1 paramedic, 1 medical student, 7 stretcher carriers, 4 nurses, 2 general dogsbodies and a partridge in a pear-tree. Apparently they were all gathered in a conference hall and congratulated. Numai 'pupat Piata Independentei' lipseste...

idiots(Photo source) Government officials can continue to defend the tragic comedy of errors with excuses of weather conditions, darkness, difficult terrain etc. But it won't cut with the people who are sick and tired of such shoulder-shrugging ineffectuality and idleness. The government is unable to provide decent and functional equipment to rescue crash victims, but is quite happy to invest resources in surveillance. Romania, a country of 19 million with no foreign enemies has SEVEN intelligence agencies, including main domestic and foreign spying agencies. Trific. I'm sure everyone feels marvellously safe as a result.

The much-boasted telecommunications agency (one of the seven afore-mentioned 'intelligence' agencies) frittered away a small 40 million euros in bolstering up the country's national emergency number to make it efficient and functional. What happened to Radu Zamfir's calls, then? A couple of them ended up in Moscow. Go figure.

Ponta meanwhile is trying to salvage the little credibility he has left. Today, he promised that authorities would be "much more efficient" in the future. How will he manage that, I wonder. We know how everyone is terribly good at talking in Romania, but when it comes to action, well, one shouldn't hold one's breath. Ponta has not handled the tragedy well by any means - protecting stroe was just one snafu. On Monday evening, he went on a talk-show and stated that all seven people on the flight had survived. Oops. Another bloop.

More news as it comes to light, though I must admit to being a bit frayed with all the BS and contradictions. Someone must pay for it, though. And those someones are up there on Mount Olympescu, whether they have resigned or not. The big cheeses of ROMATSA are as guilty as sin. STS too. But they are NOT alone. stroe and Manescu MUST pay. If they do, Aura Ion and Adrian Iovan will NOT have died in vain.


Further news: 27th January

Was Adrian Iovan responsible for the plane accident? See Adevarul, EVZ and Yahoo News. Almost certainly. When a plane crashes it is either a) due to a pilot error or b) a technical/mechanical fault or failure. End of. However, we're talking about TWO different issues here - the plane coming down in the first place and then the botched up, cretinous rescue operation. The two should not be muddled as they are entirely unrelated.

If Adrian Iovan was responsible for the plane crash, he definitely was NOT responsible for emergency services taking SIX HOURS to arrive (the villagers got there faster and did a whole load more good) and the long string of bungling that occurred from the moment the authorities became aware of the accident just 15 minutes after the crash. Why people are getting so hysterical to defend Iovan is beyond me and shows a refusal to logicise - much less THINK. What do people imagine? That Ponta said "crash please" and Iovan did? Or there was some kind of extra-terrestrial occurrence causing the plane to end up in the forest with two fatalities? Or perhaps the forest just leapt out in front of him? Come on people. For heavens sake. Separate the two issues and cut the hysteria.

More to follow...

Pilotul Adrian Iovan, vinovat pentru accident?

Citeste mai mult: adev.ro/n01oaj
Pilotul Adrian Iovan, vinovat pentru accident?

Citeste mai mult: adev.ro/n01oaj
Gheorghe Vieru

Citeste mai mult: adev.ro/mzx3u4states that she died of hypothermia and thoracic trauma (prolonged chest-wall compression which could include tamponade perhaps but doesn't say)

Posté par Sarah in Romania à 23:19 - Commentaires [9] - Permalien [#]

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