By Daniel Stroe – Bucharest
The Romanian President Traian Basescu lashed out at the Romanian intelligence which he argued interfered with the electoral campaign before Sunday’s first round of presidential elections, on the same day the media published pictures taken in Paris showing Elena Udrea, a Basescu backed candidate, and Alina Bica, head of the organized crime division of the Romanian Prosecutor’s Office.
Even though Udrea explained she had gone to Paris on a private visit with Bica whom she called a friend, the pictures, published by a blog which was unavailable anymore within a couple of hours, raised eyebrows in Romania, especially since Udrea’s former husband, Dorin Cocos, was arrested this week in the so-called “Microsoftgate” scandal and her name surfaced in another investigation, related to a border securing contract with EADS. The respective blog also published details of expenses the women had made as well as the accommodation invoice.
Udrea accused the Romanian Foreign Intelligence (SIE) of being behind the pictures and their sudden release. “It is obvious this is a stakeout of the intelligence services which supervised three women (the third is Anamaria Topoliceanu, former head of the National Investment Company) at the expense of the Romanian state”, she said.
In a TV talk-show last night, President Basescu said the pictures are a further proof Romanian secret services are involved in the electoral campaign and vowed he would have a discussion with the directors of the intelligence after the first round of presidential elections on Sunday. “They don’t mind their business, this is a bad signal”, Basescu pointed out, but then singling out a few men at the helm of the intelligence establishment who went beyond their prerogatives.
He ruled out the possibility of paparazzi tailing the three women and pointed at a professional job. “This is an operation that a Romanian and a French secret service collaborated”, he concluded, saying that “no Romanian agent could have gone to the hotel reception and had the receptionist look for an accommodation invoice seven months before”. “I will absolutely ask for official information, this will not stay like this”, he concluded.
In a brief reaction, SIE said it wouldn’t comment on statements made by Elena Udrea. But the Romanian Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean said he regretted Basescu’s comments about an alleged involvement of a French secret service in the electoral campaign in Romania. “In my position as Foreign Minister, I am expressing my profound regret that, amid the electoral campaign, from obviously politically biased positions, public accusation are being brought against some institutions of the French state”, he said.
Basescu argued the stake of the alleged operation in Paris is Elena Udrea’s electoral support in the second round of the elections when neither of the runoff contenders can win without her votes. Basescu overtly endorsed Udrea, a former adviser to him, for presidency, prompting rivals to accuse him of interfering with the electoral campaign. The Paris pictures scandal is further proof the stakes are high in this campaign and comes weeks after Basescu disclosed PM Victor Ponta, his political arch-rival and favorite in the presidential polls, was a secret agent of SIE.