This photo shows an anti-government protest in Bucharest in 2017, not 2021

Copyright AFP 2017-2021. All rights reserved.

An image has been shared repeatedly in multiple posts on Facebook alongside a claim it shows protesters in Romania rallying against Covid-19 restrictions. The claim is false: the photo shows an anti-government protest in the Romanian capital Bucharest in 2017.

The image was shared here on Facebook on February 20, 2021.

Screenshot of the misleading Facebook post, taken on February 24, 2021.

“Romanians are protesting against their government that imposed restrictions citing coronavirus. I wish people [South Koreans] were wise like this,” reads the Korean-language caption. 

The accompanying photo shows a huge crowd gathered on a street.

An identical photo was shared on Facebook here and here alongside a similar claim.

The claim is false: the image shows an anti-government protest in Bucharest three years before the coronavirus pandemic.

A reverse image search on Google found the photo was published here on Twitter by geopolitical analyst Koert Debeuf on February 5, 2017.

“Wow. Bucharest, Romania tonight. The people ask the government to leave,” the tweet reads. 

Screenshot of Koert Debeuf’s tweet published on February 5, 2017, captured on February 24, 2021.

A similar photo taken on February 5, 2017 by AFP journalist Andrei Pungovschi shows huge numbers of protesters in the same square in Bucharest.

Screenshot of AFP photo taken on February 5, 2017, captured on February 24, 2021.

The AFP photo caption reads in part: “This picture shows a large view of people protesting against the Romanian government's contentious corruption decree in front of the government headquarters at the Victoriei square in Bucharest on February 5, 2017.”

The protests saw hundreds of thousands of Romanians demonstrating to protest against an emergency decree that would have decriminalised certain corruption offences. The decree was subsequently scrapped, AFP reported on February 5, 2017.

The presence on the two images of several vehicles parked at the same locations (circled in green by AFP), as well as the presence of a yellow banner in the same location, confirm that the two photos were taken on the same evening.

Translated by
COVID-19