Alison Mutler is a journalist based in Bucharest, Romania. I have covered Romanian current affairs, politics, protests, the EU, corruption, social issues, defense, NATO, lifestyle and sport for the past 27 years, 25 of those for the Associated Press. I also served as the president of the Foreign Correspondents' Association.
This is a story I reported on about Romania's institutionalized children, who were first exposed to the world after the fall of Communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu in the 1989 uprising. There were 100,000 of them, and horror stories emerged of them being beaten, underfed, denied medication and neglected_ sometimes tied to beds which they soiled. Flash forward 30 years, and there are just 7,000 institutionalized children who now live in small family homes.
One of dozens of stories I have reported on in the past two years about efforts by Romania's ruling Social Democratic Party and its allies to change laws that critics say would make it harder to crack down on high-level corruption. Romanians celebrated 100 years since their country became a modern-day state on Dec. 1, 2018, but there were also protests addressing the erosion of the rule of law and the state of democracy in the Balkan nation.
A Canadian events manager and her brother, whose grandfather was an expert in vampire lore, beat 88,000 people to win a night in Dracula's castle, a 14th-century gothic fortress in Romania's Transylvanian region. They bedded down in coffins and waited to see whether the ghost of Dracula would appear....