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Romania leader’s claim of assassination attempt debated

August 22, 2018
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FILE - In this Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016 file photo, head of the Social Democrat Party Liviu Dragnea speaks to the media after exit polls were announced in the parliamentary elections in Bucharest, Romania. Claims by the leader of Romania's ruling party that he was the target of a failed assassination attempt have sparked wide debate in the country after Liviu Dragnea told a television station late Tuesday, Aug. 21, that 4 foreigners had come to Bucharest for the April 2017 assignment, but had been thwarted.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, File)

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Claims by the leader of Romania’s ruling party that he was the target of a failed assassination attempt have sparked wide debate in the country.

Liviu Dragnea told Antena 3 late Tuesday that four foreigners had come to Bucharest for the April 2017 assignment, but had been thwarted. He suggested that billionaire philanthropist George Soros was behind the attempt.

He appeared to back down Wednesday, following criticism of his allegations, saying that while he had “a very bad opinion,” about Soros: “I don’t think he is involved in this incident.”

Eugen Toma, who heads the opposition Popular Movement Party, compared Dragnea to late Communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu, who claimed, prior to his December 1989 execution, that foreign agents had engineered his downfall. The general prosecutor’s office said there has been no probe.

Dragnea expanded on his claims, saying that two cars without license plates with four foreigners in him had blocked his car in traffic near the Parliament building, but he had managed to evade them. Backtracking on his earlier comments, he said he hadn’t informed authorities of the incident.

Dragnea has been disqualified for the office of prime minister due to a 2016 vote-rigging conviction.

Romanians have regularly protested what they claim are government moves to weaken the anti-corruption fight.

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