Anti-Romani articles in the Ukrainian press

15 May 1998

Anti-Romani articles have appeared recently in the Ukrainian press. One article, published on February 19, 1998, by Larisa Fedina in the Ukrainian newspaper Moloda Ukrajina, a newspaper with nation-wide distribution, bears the headline: „Roma are pulled towards the political arena because lice ate their romanticism long ago." Roma are, according to Ms Fedina, „a mini-horde" and writes of Romani life, „Roma children practically do not have childhood [...] The settlement life is full of horrible scenes: loud quarrels which have the smell of alcohol, scenes of jealousy, sexual relation-ships with children and cases of incest [...] Since there are many more women in the settlement than men (one third of them permanently fills the prisons), the wishes of the stronger sex are fulfilled immediately." She goes on to describe the Romani language as „jargon". Writing of Roma in the Transcarpathian region in western Ukraine, Ms Fedina hints at the malthusian apocalypse - that according to „some doctors", in thirty years time, the region will face the overwhelming of the „white race" due to the growth of the Romani population. She concludes that Roma are undeserving or incapable of political participation because, „Let a Rom into parliament and he will steal [Speaker of Parliament] Moroz himself. Who knows what the light of self-consciousness will awaken singing temperamental romantics, or their bandit heart slumbering in poverty." In response to the article, both the Uzhorod Romani organisation Romani Yag and the ERRC wrote letters to the editor of Moloda Ukrajina urging a public apology. Romani Yag additionally sent a letter to the General Prosecutor of Ukraine, urging prosecution of the author.

Another article by Vera Valerko, „The Objective Point of View: They, Gypsies, are like this", published in the legal journal Juridichnij Visnik Ukrajiny on January 22 and 29 also describes Roma using humiliating stereotypes. According to Ms Valerko, certain qualities radically separate Roma from „honest labourers" and she states that Roma pose unique problems for the criminal justice system. Ms Valerko claims that even young Romani girls are doomed to become criminals. Both Romani Yag and the ERRC sent a letter to the editor of the newspaper urging a public apology. On March 12, the State Commission of Ukraine on National and Minorities Issues sent a letter to Romani Yag, stating that it shared Romani Yag's concerns regarding the degrading nature of the article. The Commission stated that letters of appeal had been sent by the Commission to the Ministry of Information and to the editor-in-chief of Juridichnij Visnik Ukrajiny.

(Romani Yag)

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