CHISINAU -- Moldovan acting President Mihai Ghimpu, who is also the parliament speaker, is being criticized for insulting a Jewish opposition deputy, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.
Ghimpu told Communist lawmaker Oleg Reidman during a parliament debate on February 19 that he had met "highly cultured Jews" but that Reidman is "a shame to them." Reidman protested the remark, saying that in parliament he represents his constituency and not a particular culture or religion.
Arcadie Barbarosie, director of the Public Policies Institute, a Moldovan NGO that promotes pluralism and an open society, told RFE/RL that Ghimpu's remarks were regrettable and Reidman's reply was "dignified." He said Reidman's ethnicity plays no role whatsoever in his political activities and bringing it up is "irrelevant."
Barbarosie added that using ethnicity as a weapon in political disputes is "a matter of [poor] education."
Moldovan leaders have been criticized by Jewish groups and a human rights committee in the U.S. Congress for their weak response to an anti-Semitic incident in December when an Orthodox priest, Father Anatolie Cibric, and dozens of his followers tore down a Jewish menorah in central Chisinau.
Cibric was fined 600 lei ($50) for the incident, which an official at the Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem called "ridiculous."