MISA protests against prosecutors' alleged abuses

Bucharest, Romania - Dozens of representatives of the Spiritual Movement for Integration into the Absolute (MISA) yesterday organized a protest in front of the government, accusing prosecutors of abusively interrogating MISA members.

"Besides Gregorian Bivolaru (the head of the movement), 25 of our practitioners are victims of prosecutors' abuses," said MISA spokesman Eduard Franti.

With banners reading "Stop the abuses," the dozens of MISA representatives yelled slogans such as "We want justice!" or "No more abuses!"

Franti said the campaign carried out against them by the former government was an attempt to distract attention from the serious accusations brought against former Prime Minister Adrian Nastase and other government officials. The MISA spokesman said the former authorities have been accused of trafficking children.

"It is not a coincidence that in 2004, when these accusations were made by Baroness Emma Nicholson against them, they started the campaign against us, accusing us of trafficking children, prostitution, trafficking in weapons and so on. And in more than two years none of these accusations have been proved," Franti said, adding that during the investigations people were threatened and forced to lie by investigators.

The MISA protest also focused on alleged discrimination, as some of the protesters claimed they had been discriminated against and lost their jobs merely because they practice yoga.

31 year-old Paul Ivanov complained that he had served for ten years in the army and that when the scandal broke out in 2004 he was dismissed because he was found guilty of violating the military code. "Their only problem was that I was a yoga practioner," said Ivanov, who sued the generals who dismissed him from the army because he believes his right to choose his religion has been violated.

Franti said they had asked Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu for a meeting, but were told the government's agenda is currently full.

The MISA organization's representatives were accused of human trafficking, instigation to racial hatred, abusing minors, spreading pornographic materials, exploitation of minors, and other crimes.

MISA leader Gregorian Bivolaru was recently granted political asylum in Sweden, where he had fled after being accused of having had sex with a minor, human trafficking and organized crime.