ROMANIANS DEFY BAN ON PROTESTS

Antigovernment protesters gathered in Bucharest's main square for the sixth straight day Aug. 29 in defiance of a 30-day ban on new demonstrations in the capital. The ban was imposed by the city council on Aug. 27 following a series of violent clashes between riot police and protesters armed with gasoline bombs and rocks.

The measure, the most restrictive one imposed since the overthrow of communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu last year, prohibits demonstrations for the next month and limits future protests to sports stadiums and four city parks.

Six other public squares were declared off-limits to protesters, including Victory Square near the government headquarters and the central University Square, that was occupied by antigovernment demonstrators for seven weeks in May and June.

Despite the ban, dozens of people gathered in University Square on Aug. 28 and chanted antigovernment slogans. Police made no attempt to intervene.

Romania's established opposition groups have not sanctioned the protests, and some activists have even accused the ruling National Salvation Front of orchestrating the unrest to justify a crackdown on legitimate antigovernment groups.

A police crackdown June 14 on the seven-week-long University Square demonstration triggered antigovernment rioting that left six people dead and hundreds wounded. The rioting was halted when about 10,000 coal miners traveled to Bucharest and attacked protesters.

On Aug. 28, President Ion Iliescu rejected as ``irresponsible'' claims by two former aides that the December uprising against Ceausescu was essentially a military coup.

Former National Salvation Front spokesman Silviu Brucan and former Defense Minister Nicolae Militaru told a Bucharest newspaper recently that top generals had begun planning the revolt as early as 1983 and had picked Mr. Iliescu as Ceausescu's successor.

The Front contends the revolution was a spontaneous popular uprising.

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