Regarding the situation
with the glorification of Nazism and the spread of Neo-Nazism
and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms
of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance
REPORT OF THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION
Anti-Semitism, racism, Fascism and other acts of xenophobia are legally prohibited and criminalized in Romania.
The year of 2015 saw the enactment of Law No. 217 amending the Government Ordinance No. 31 of 2002 Prohibiting Fascist, Racist, Xenophobic Organizations and Symbols, as well as Organizations and Symbols Promoting the Cult of Personalities Guilty of Crimes against Peace and Humanity. The Law defines the notion of “Holocaust in Romania” as “systematic extermination and annihilation of Jews and the Roma with the support of the authorities and government agencies of the Romanian State during the period from 1940 to 1944” and criminalizes its denial, justification or minimization of its effects.
According to the law, all “legionary movements”, i.e. “organizations which were active in Romania during the period from 1927 to 1941” – Legion of the Archangel Michael, Iron Guard and Everything for the Country party – as well as their modern successors shall be treated as fascist organizations.
Tougher legislation forced officially registered non-governmental organizations promoting the ideas of “legionary movement” to cease their public activity, while a number of far-right organizations continue their propaganda using social media. These include an officially registered party, The New Right, and a legionary movement with no legal status, Legion of the Archangel Michael.
The year of 2018 saw the enactment of Law No. 157 on Specific Measures to Prevent and Counter Episodes of Anti-Semitism that provides for imprisonment for a period ranging from 3 months to 10 years for anti-Semitic rhetoric, dissemination of anti-Semitic material, establishment of anti-Semitic organizations and participation in their work.
Over the recent years, the country has seen a tendency towards a growing number of those who support nationalistic movement seeking, inter alia, rehabilitation of fascist units which were active in the territory of the country till 1944.
The largest and most proactive one is civic platform Actiunea 2012 (Action 2012) comprised of over 40 NGOs. It is known for its populist calls for a review of the outcome of the Yalta and Potsdam Conferences. The organization is aggressive in its popularization of the ideas of “Romanian unionism”. It advocates a revision of boundaries which suggests a “return” of Moldova, Ukrainian Bukovina and a number of Odessa region’s areas to the “bosom of the motherland” of Romania. Apart from revisionist slogans, various campaigns and marches, regularly organized across the country, often feature ultranationalist and Russophobic rhetoric as well.
The rhetoric of activists of the “Romanian unionism” movement seeks to whitewash war crimes by Hitler’s accomplices from Romania (dictator Ion Antonescu and others) by passing their actions off as “fight for national liberation” of the Romanian people.
A public opinion survey, carried out in November-December of 2018 and commissioned by the National Council for Combating Discrimination, showed that 48 per cent of respondents support nationalism as useful phenomenon for Romania. The rise of such sentiments is taking place amid acquiescence from the Romanian authorities that “turn a blind eye” to flagrant violations by Romania of its international commitments relating to the prohibition of Nazi symbols and organizations.
Contrary to the provisions of the Government Ordinance No. 31 of 2002, some residential areas still feature streets which bear the names of criminals convicted of crimes against the Roma or Jewish people. Streets of such residential areas as Bechet (Olt county), 1 Decembrie (Ilfov county), Ramnicu Sarat (Buzau county), Marasesti (Vrancea county) bear the name of a war criminal and Hitler’s ally, marshal Ion Antonescu. A street in the city of Cluj-Napoca is named after the commander of an ultranationalist movement unit and a far-right political party, Iron Guard, and the general manager of Romanian theatres during the period of 1940-1941, Radu Demetrescu-Gyr (convicted of war crimes in June 1945). Streets in Bucharest and Aiud, as well as a technical college in the Romanian capital bear the name of the deputy finance minister of Ion Antonescu’s government, Mircea Vulcanescu (convicted of war crimes in October 1946). The memory of Nichifor Crainic, minister of propaganda of Ion Antonescu’s government, lives on in the name of a street in the city of Pitesti (convicted of war crimes in July 1945).
In 2017, deputy mayor of Sector 2 in Bucharest and member of the National Liberal Party Dan Cristian Popescu, with the support of “liberal” Russophobic media, proposed an initiative to rename the Tolbukhin Park alleging that the Soviet Marshal had been an “invader and aggressor” and “the Red Army brought communism” on Romanian soil.
In March 2019, 28 parliamentarians with an ultra-liberal party of “Soros breed”, Save Romania Union, proposed to pass a bill “prohibiting communist organizations and symbols”.
What raises serious questions is the successor status of the Democratic Forum of Germans in Romania (DFGR) which represents the interests of the German minority residing in the country. In his open letter, Romanian political analyst and economist Radu Golban pays attention to a dangerous precedent when Romania effectively recognized the Nazi organization. The author of the letter believes that an expert study by Swiss lawyers shows that the decision by Romanian judicial authorities to acknowledge the DFGR as the successor entity of the Ethnic Germans Group (Deutsche Volksgruppe in Rumanien) actually means a recognition of this Nazi group and a violation of Bucharest’s commitments relating to peaceful agreements signed following World War II.
Decision by the Sibiu court of May 28, 2007 recognized the DFGR as the successor entity of the Romanian affiliate of the Nazi Ethnic Germans Group which, according to Decree by King Mihai No. 485 of October 7, 1944, had been prohibited and ceased to exist. According to the said court decision, the DFGR started restitution of its property forfeited after 1944. Over 100 objects of immovable property shall be restituted in Sibiu county. This process is directly supported by the President of the country and former chairman of the DFGR, Klaus Iohannis. Though the DFGR is not a radical or extremist organization, the ongoing property transfer procedure using such a legal mechanism could be applied to former activists of the legionary movement or members of Ion Antonescu’s government. This could set a dangerous precedent for restitution of property seized based on charges of war crimes brought by former owners.
March 2018 saw a launch of Nationalistic Corner (Coltul nationalist) website which seeks to restore “historical justice” by revoking Government Ordinance No. 31/2002 and Law No. 157/2018 prohibiting dissemination of books by collaborators, including by Albert Wass.
Some recommendations of the final report by the International Commission on the Holocaust in Romania, which completed its work in 2004, have not been implemented yet. Despite persistent demands from representatives of the local Jewish community, the Romanian authorities have not so far taken any steps to quash the decision by the Constitutional Court of Romania of 1997 concerning rehabilitation of war criminals Radu Dinulescu and Gheorghe Petrescu who were convicted in the post-war period.
We see attempts to rehabilitate Romanian politicians involved in the massacre of Jewish and the Roma people. Efforts to preserve the memory of “victims of communism” frequently result in justification of former convicts from among the legionary movement or Ion Antonescu’s former administration (cases of Mircea Vulcanescu, Radu Demetrescu-Gyr and Vintila Horia, finance minister of Ion Antonescu’s government convicted of war crimes in 1946).
A public opinion survey, carried out in December of 2017 by the EU Agency for Fundamental Human Rights, shows that over 40 per cent of the Roma population in Romania say they suffer from discrimination on the grounds of nationality. Occasional abuse of position by police against the Roma people has been recorded. NGO The Roma Center of Social Cooperation and Research has recorded 43 cases of this kind left without any serious investigation into the actions of law enforcement officers. One of the recent episodes was recorded in September 2018 when the capital city police applied “extensive force” during the detention of two Roma teenagers for illegal fishing in one of the parks of Bucharest. The MIA of Romania is currently conducting an internal investigation into the this case.
The report by the US Department of State of 2018, with reference to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, mentions crimes committed against refugees and migrants in Romania in 2018, the majority of which, for various reasons, went unnoticed by Romanian law enforcement agencies. The Romanian authorities refused to classify these wrongdoings as hate crimes.
There have been recorded isolated cases of anti-Semitism. April of 2017 saw a destruction of 10 tombstones at a Jewish cemetery in Bucharest. In June 2017, the Jewish community in the city of Cluj-Napoca informed the police that unknown people inscribed insulting words denying the Holocaust on a wall of a city Jewish memorial site. April of 2019 saw a destruction of over 70 grave- and memorial stones at a Jewish cemetery in the city of Husi (Vaslui county). The Federation of the Jewish Communities in Romania condemned this act of vandalism.
Some claims by Romanian officials, characterized by society and human rights NGOs as incitement to ethnic hatred, deserve special mention. In January 2018, making a statement on local television, prime minister Mihai Tudose said that “those hanging out the so-called Székely flag in Romanian cities (a symbol of Hungarians residing in Romania) will hang in the same place”, after which he received a warning notice from the National Council for Combating Discrimination (NCCD).
In 2018, prime minister’s adviser Darius Valcov posted a video footage on his social media page where he compared President Klaus Iohannis with Hitler prompting condemnation from Jewish and German communities in Romania. The NCCD obliged Darius Valcov to pay a fine of about 500 US dollars. According to Adevarul newspaper, a “crafty” manufacturer (Ro Star), during its confectionery advertising campaign on the Facebook social network, used the image of Hitler on the pretext of running a contest on history.
At the same time, Romania has legal framework for combating glorification of Nazism. Its criminal law provides for a rather clear characterization of discrimination offences. Government Emergency Ordinance No. 31/2002, for instance, prohibits organizations, symbols and deeds with fascist, racist, legionary and xenophobic character and the glorification of those found guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Such deeds include denying, contesting, approving, justifying or minimizing in an obvious manner, through any means, in public, the Holocaust or its effects. In addition, national courts have been collecting data on discrimination since April 3, 2015. Moreover, discriminatory acts constitute an aggravating circumstance, notably in instances of torture or limitations of the rights of a person perpetrated by a public servant when on duty.
According to the UNHRC Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, Romania is taking practical measures as well. For example, curriculum for future judges and prosecutors at the National Institute of Magistracy includes training focused on combating hate crimes. Practical seminars and conferences on ways to handle hate crimes are organized as well. The police receive similar training on a wide range of issues relating to combating discrimination, including against minority groups.
In education, practical measures to combat neo-Nazism, racism, and racial discrimination were limited to the inclusion in 2013, on the initiative of the International Commission on the Holocaust in Romania, in primary, secondary, and upper-secondary school curricular, of an optional special course on the Holocaust, approved by the Ministry of National Education.