- published: 13 Sep 2010
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Jilava prison is a 30-minute drive from Bucharest. During Ceaucescu's communist regime, it was the most notorious prison in the country - but today most of the inmates are white collar criminals like Bodgan Paiu, who made a fortune with Internet fraud. The Romanian government is now planning to clamp down on Internet crime. But so far, the newly formed special police unit based in the capital seems unable to rise to the challenge.
Romanias dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu was executed 20 years ago. But his infamous secret service is still around. The old cliques manipulate the old files,intimidate journalists,and take key positions in the economy.Herta Müller,the ethnic German Literature Nobel Prize winner from Romania,has described the machinations of the Securitate. After she emigrated to Germany in 1987,it spread rumors that she herself was a communist agent. Even today,when she goes on reading tours through her old homeland,the Securitate shadows her.
The island of Ada Kaleh on the River Danube used to be filled with bustling activity. But about 40 years ago the island in southern Romania had to be evacuated to because of a hydroelectric plant being installed. The authorities promised residents that they could relocate to the downstream island of Simian and that everything would be rebuilt there. But Simian is now a waste land. Read more: http://www.dw.de/program/european-journal/s-3065-9798
Currently Romania's capital seems to be one enormous building site. Romania's construction industry expects turnover to increase by as much as 30 percent in 2008, to some 13 billion euros. After years of neglect, the country is modernising is infrastructure -- streets are being widened and bridges rebuilt. But demand for new homes and commercial properties is growing as well. Prices have risen significantly, making some people wonder if the bubble is about to burst in the real estate market.
An estimated 6,000 homeless people live in the network of sewers and tunnels beneath the streets of Bucharest. Many were born underground and are now having children themselves. It's a world of its own, a world full of drugs, disease and poverty that's developed beneath the capital. Read more: http://www.dw.de/program/european-journal/s-3065-9798
Numerous old palaces and villas in Romania are falling prey to neglect. Investors are being deliberately discouraged as former officers of the Securitate secret police attempt to win control over the Romanian real estate market.The aristocratic Kemeny family has been fighting a legal battle with the Romanian authorities for almost 20 years in order to win back some of its stately homes and estates in Transylvania. But the prospects are poor. One residence was turned into a mental hospital, for example, while another case was restarted due to procedural errors. The family is facing a war of attrition waged by former Securitate officers, who are busy securing the best properties on the market for themselves.
Ten years ago, a number of eastern European rivers were contaminated by cyanide after a toxic spill at a gold reprocessing plant in northern Romania. Residents are protesting against efforts at the plant to resume the extraction of gold by using cyanide.It was one of Europe's worst-ever chemical disasters. In January 2000, the Sasar, the Tisza and the Danube were contaminated by a spill of at least 100,000 cubic meters of water containing cyanide which had originated at the Aurul gold processing plant in Baia Mare, northern Romania. The plant has now been bought up by a Russian company, which wants to resume the extraction of gold using cyanide. Residents are up in arms and have turned to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg - which already ruled against the Romanian state last...
Entire forests are being illegally cut down in Romania. Lax forestry policies are facilitating the deforestation. Residents have to cope with more frequent flooding. Read more: http://www.dw.de/european-journal-the-magazine-from-brussels-2012-11-07/e-16314962-9798
Wine-making is a tradition that goes back thousands years in Romania. At various times in the past, up to 200,000 hectares of land in the region have been devoted to grape-growing. Today, pioneering young vintners in places like the Târnava valley of Transylvania are trying to revive that tradition. European Union membership has been a boon for Romanian vintners. It's opened new markets and brought capital into the area. But local winemakers still face many obstacles, among them local bureaucrats, who often demand bribes in exchange for approving export licenses and awarding EU support and subsidies. For more go to http://www.dw.de/program/european-journal/s-3065-9798
Thousands of wild horses live in the Danube Delta. Now a dispute has emerged regarding ownership of the herds.Earlier this year, a Romanian village captured some of the wild horses for slaughter. Village residents say the horses are their property because the herds are not wild, but had come into the area after collective farms in the region were dissolved. But animal rights groups say the region has long been home to wild horses, and are calling for a sanctuary to protect the horses in the region.
During the Ceausescu era, tens of thousands were employed in the Jiu mines. Most were unskilled workers from other parts of the country. The turn of the millennium saw the first pit closures and massive protests of miners in Bucharest. Today the miners have given up protesting and are left living in dire poverty. Some even dig for coal to heat their homes for their families. More Information: http://www.dw.de/program/european-journal/s-3065-9798
Romania's health care system is on the brink of collapse. A lack of basic medical equipment such as syringes and cannulas means that crucial operations are often out of the question,and funds for expensive procedures such as transplants have also run out.Staff have been ordered to take time off and many doctors and nurses at state hospitals work only part-time. Chemists are slowly going out of business because health care providers can't afford to approve prescriptions. Increasingly,medicine is being bought over the counter in cash.
Many Romanian horses are infected with a dangerous virus that causes a blood disease. It is transmitted by biting house and horse flies and illegal animal imports have caused the disease to spread throughout Europe.German horse ranches have already had to destroy dozens of animals. The epidemic has meanwhile already reached Belgium and Britain. The dealers who offer the Romanian horses at dumping prices use a variety of tricks to conceal the animals' origin. Experts estimate that 15 percent of the horses in Romania are infected. And the pathogen is tricky: the animals can carry it for years before it breaks out. But they are highly infectious the whole time.
Clashes erupted between demonstrators and police in Romania as around 125,000 people took to the streets of Bucharest in protest against new emergency ordinance that decriminalizes the theft of public funds under $47,000. Subscribe to the WSJ channel here: http://bit.ly/14Q81Xy More from the Wall Street Journal: Visit WSJ.com: http://www.wsj.com Follow WSJ on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/wsjvideo Follow WSJ on Google+: https://plus.google.com/+wsj/posts Follow WSJ on Twitter: https://twitter.com/WSJvideo Follow WSJ on Instagram: http://instagram.com/wsj Follow WSJ on Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/wsj/
In scarcely any region in the world are cigarettes as cheap as they are in Eastern Europe. Because that's been the case for years, a veritable smugglers' paradise has developed. Read more: http://www.dw.de/program/european-journal/s-3065-9798
The UN-sponsored Evacuation Transit Centre is located in the Romanian city of Timisoara. Since mid-December it has been home to a group of 138 Sudanese refugees. They're waiting for visas to allow them to re-settle in the United States. Most of the group are from Darfur. They fled Sudan at the end of the 1980s,when the situation there deteriorated. Since then,they've spent years living in makeshift camps in Iraq,where their dark skin color made them the target of racial attacks. In Timisoara,they're having an easier time. Romania's second biggest city is known for its cosmopolitan atmosphere. Social workers and religious counsellors are on hand at the centre to look after their welfare.
In the village of Gârbova in the Transylvania region of Romania, the old customs of the local ethnic Germans, the "Transylvanian Saxons," guarantee harmony in the community. But now there is trouble with the European Union.
A new cathedral is being built in the center of Bucharest at a cost of 600 million euros. Conflict has risen over the government's decision to provide financial support to the project while closing a number of hospitals.Construction work on the Cathedral of National Redemption is progressing at full speed. It will be 125 meters high and dwarf the People's Palace built by Nicolae Ceaucescu. The dictator had a number of churches destroyed in the 1980s, and today's government is eager for friendly relations with the Orthodox Church. Belief plays a major role in Romanian society, and is for many people an important comfort in their poverty-stricken lives.
Emil Boc had to step down as Romanian prime minister in 2012, but now, as mayor of Cluj-Napoca he's fighting for reform in his country and trying to improve Romania's image. Read more: http://www.dw.de/program/european-journal/s-3065-9798
From unknown homeless person to celebrated star of the art scene - and back on the street. The Romanian Ion Barladeanu went on a rollercoaster ride from success to failure.Ion Barladeanu lived for many years in the cellar of a Bucharest apartment building. During the Ceausescu era, he began making collages from old magazines. It was risky work, because many of his collages are biting criticism of the regime. Two years ago, galleries and art critics finally noticed Barladeanu and his unique mixture of Pop Art, Dada, and Surrealism. His work was exhibited in Paris, London, and Basel. But then his new friends dropped him again.