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Liviu Dragnea arrives escorted by police officers for a court hearing in Bucharest. Liviu Dragnea, the former leader of Romania’s ruling Social Democratic Party, center, arrives escorted by police officers for a court hearing in Bucharest, Romania, April 15, 2019 (AP photo by Vadim Ghirda).

Romania’s Most Powerful Politician Is in Jail, but Its Corruption Fight Isn’t Over

Monday, July 8, 2019

Some protesters mockingly waved handcuffs in Liviu Dragnea’s face as he left the courtroom in Bucharest to start a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence on May 27. Many others celebrated less publically, seeing the fall of Romania’s most powerful man as proof that the country’s embattled institutions, though under more and more political pressure, still function independently.

Dragnea’s arrest put the brakes on the government’s controversial judicial reforms, viewed by many of Romania’s allies as an attempt to undermine a strikingly successful anti-corruption drive. The government’s staunchest critics hope it will be a knockout blow for the ruling Social Democratic Party, or PSD, which until recently was led by Dragnea and which opponents see as little more than a crypto-communist organization supporting kleptocracy. ...

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