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Romanian Parliament Jumper Was Protesting Cuts

BUCHAREST, Romania - A Romanian man who flung himself from a balcony into the country's parliament, reportedly to protest reduced benefits for his autistic son, says he did it to draw attention to how officials have divided society with harsh cuts.

Adrian Sobaru says officials are not treating people like human beings. He told Antena 3 TV late Thursday, "it hurts that we have become mere numbers."

Sobaru says that he jumped on Dec. 23 to send a broader message rather than just a personal one. He says it had become difficult to offer children a decent future.

A loud thud reverberated in the chamber after Sobaru - identified by the country's public television station as one of its engineers - jumped from a height of about 23 feet. He was not seriously injured.

He hit the benches shortly after Prime Minister Emil Boc greeted the lawmakers. No one else was injured.

Boc looked startled and rushed over to Sobaru, along with other lawmakers, before Speaker Mircea Geoana briefly postponed the session.

Photos showed Sobaru standing on a balcony above where lawmakers were sitting, before he jumped. More than half a dozen lawmakers watched him fall. The images show Sobaru wearing a white T-shirt, with the words "You've pierced us. You've killed our children's future. Freedom," in a reference to government policy.

The first line was a reference to President Traian Basescu, who upon winning the presidential race in 2009 said "I've pierced them," using a well-known line from a Romanian movie.

As emergency medical workers took him out on a stretcher, Sobaru shouted "Freedom!" - echoing cries of the 1989 fall of communism in which more than 1,300 people died. Romanians are commemorating the 21st anniversary of the uprising in which authorities shot unarmed protesters.

Romania took harsh measures last year to curb its budget deficit, leading to a decline in living standards across the country.

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