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Romanian president in racism row after spat with journalist

29 Maggio 2007 Commenti chiusi

Romanian President Traian Basescu, fresh from a clear victory in a weekend referendum to decide on his possible impeachment, on Monday faced accusations of having made racist comments and theft of a mobile telephone following an altercation with a journalist.

Romania’s National Council against Discrimination said it was to summon Basescu to explain the incident, which has sparked protests by journalists’ unions and human rights groups.

The alleged incident occurred Saturday, the day of the referendum, as a journalist recorded footage of Basescu on her mobile phone as he was shopping with his wife in a Bucharest supermarket.

As the president was packing his purchases into his car, the reporter questioned him on what was the expected outcome of the vote. An angry Basescu responded “have you nothing better to do?”, snatched the journalist’s telephone and drove from the scene.

As he departed, the president is alleged to have commented to his wife on how aggressive the reporter was, describing the woman as a “stinking gypsy.”

The mobile telephone, which was still recording, is alleged to have captured his comment. Basescu’s security staff are believed to have neglected to delete the recording before the telephone was later returned to the journalist.

Basescu scored around 75 per cent backing in Saturday’s referendum, engineered by opposition and government parties over the president’s alleged interference in political affairs as part of his anti-corruption drive.


Project boosts Czech self-rules cooperation with Ngos and Romanies

28 Marzo 2007 Commenti chiusi

The Romany Integration Programme, a four-year international project prepared by the Partners Czechs NGO, has helped establish cooperation between self-rule bodies, NGOs and local Romanies in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, the organisers said at the close of the project today.

In some places the programme also helped improve the coexistence between Romanies and the majority population, the organisers told CTK. In the Czech Republic, it focused on the towns Chomutov, north Bohemia, Bruntal, north Moravia, and Pardubice, east Bohemia.

Seminars and training sessions were also attended by representatives of Romanies, authorities, and NGOs from other areas of the Czech Republic. “It cannot be said that everything has improved everywhere. However, initiative has been launched. People started to solve their problems using their own forces,” Partners Czech director Dana Rabinakova told CTK.

She said some NGOs started field work in Romany ghettos. The programme’s coordinator Tomas Habart said that arbitration councils have been established. People now know how to settle discords, which has markedly lowered tension, said Rabinakova.

The programme also included a campaign against prejudices. A spot in which a tram passenger unjustly accuses a Romany of stealing his wallet has been broadcast by TV and screened in cinemas.

A group of Romanies who wish to work in the media have completed a special training including study stays in television, newspaper and radio offices. The whole programme was covered by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which spent more than 60 million crowns on it in the three countries.

The Czech organisers received 13.9 million they used to finance 29 projects implemented by 19 organisations in the three towns. Experts estimate that up to 80,000 in the 10 million Czech Republic live in underprivileged blocks of flats and neighbourhoods of which there are more than 300 in the country.

Most of their inhabitants are Romanies. Adult inhabitants of the “ghettos” are usually unemployed and the families live on social benefits. Children usually end up in special schools for less talented pupils. Activists say the local self-rule bodies are often unable to cope with the problem and try to resettle the Romanies on towns’ outskirts

© Prague Daily Monitor

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