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Czech Roma in the Press

Mlada fronta Dnes editor-in-chief Petr Sabata said that, while several on the left and right could claim victory and forming a government may be a problem, all sides could celebrate that the Republicans, led by Miroslav Sladek, fell short of the five percent needed to win parliamentary seats.

The Republicans, a fixture in post-Communist Czech parliaments since 1989, have campaigned on nationalist and anti-minority rhetoric and have often brought debate to a halt with filibusters filled with racist vitriol.

"Certainly," Sabata wrote, "the main event of this election -- and a great reason to celebrate on the left and right -- is the failure of Sladek's Republicans." (June 22nd)

International Herald Tribune and its Prague correspondent Peter Green comment on a scandal every honest Czech should be ashamed of.

The authorities in Pilsen say they have rejected a proposal by city employees to isolate residents described as "unadaptable", mainly Gypsies, in a compound on the city's edge.

A spokeswoman for the Pilsen town hall, Zdenka Kubalova, told Green that the proposal to rehouse such people among Pilsen's public- housing residents in a collection of fenced-in temporary shelters on the city outskirts had been abandoned.

"It was just a plan by city employees," she said, "and it was not approved by the city council."

But Pilsen still plans to move such people into renovated dormitory-style housing near railroad tracks, though these residences would not be fenced-in. The plan includes a room for the police and calls for increased police patrols around the building.

Critics of the plan and leaders of the Czech Gypsies, who prefer to be known as Romanies, say that Romanies would be disproportionately affected. Romanies, the paper explains, tend to be poorer, less educated and darker-skinned than most Czechs and are often the target of racial abuse and discrimination.

In the northern Czech city of Usti nad Labem, meanwhile, the authorities say they are still considering plans for a wall to separate a housing project populated mainly by Gypsies from homes owned by non-Gypsies.

In Usti, officials and local press reports say the situation has calmed down after several Romany civic groups met with residents on both sides of Maticni Street, focus of the controversy. Another meeting is planned for September.

Miroslav Harcinik, the mayor of Usti's Nestemice district, told correspondent Green that, if in September, Maticni seemed as it was now, clean and quiet because the Romanies have realised that they have to live in a civilised society, then they don't have to build it.

Mr Harcinik said the plans called for an anti-noise wall four metres high, made of concrete bricks on Maticni Street, and a more than two metres high metal fence on the far side of the housing project. Along with two neighbouring buildings, this would effectively wall in the Romanies of Maticni Street.

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26.02.2000Usti nad Labem / Maticni StreetNews about Roma life
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07.09.1999Petr Uhl doesn't believe that an infamous wall in Maticni street will be built by the end of OctoberNews
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30.06.1999Mayor of Usti nad Labem has asked parliament to make a decision on wallNews
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