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Moldova's Roma Protest Latest Ethnic Slur

Anatol Plugaru

Anatol Plugaru

* Correction appended

CHISINAU -- Leaders of Moldova's 30,000-strong Romany community have asked a former top official to apologize for a racist remark, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.

Anatol Plugaru, who headed Moldova's security service in the early 1990s, said last week that in seeking a new constitution the current government is acting like Roma, who "prefer to make themselves a new baby instead of washing the one they have."

The Romany organization Antidiscrimination Coalition said it has sent Plugaru, who is a lawyer, a "letter of protest."

But the online Moldovan newspaper quoted Plugaru as saying he will not apologize. Plugaru reportedly said the Romany leaders should apologize for calling him "a racist."

Roma leaders also said they have forgiven former Communist President Vladimir Voronin for an ethnic comment that pro-government media had presented as racist.

Moldova's newspapers last month printed a draft transcript of a government-sponsored television show that featured a Romany musical band. In the draft Voronin had handwritten "even the Gypsies will sing and dance for money." Voronin later said he did not intend to offend Roma.

Last month, acting Moldovan President Mihai Ghimpu, one of the leaders of the pro-Western ruling government coalition, told opposition parliamentarian Oleg Reidman, who is Jewish, that he has seen "intelligent" and "cultivated" Jews, but that Reidman "brings shame on them."

Reidman condemned the ethnic slur and said in parliament he represents his constituents, not a specific culture or ethnic group.

* Plugaru headed Moldova's security service in the early 1990s, not under the former Communist government.