Prague Twin

Thursday, November 01, 2007

It May Be Over for Čunek

I don't think I've been following this story, but it has just gotten so juicy I can't resist.

Jiří Čunek is a Christian Democrat who gained a lot of attention as mayor of Vsetín (my wife's home town) by moving the Romanies (Gypsies) out of the center and into mobile units on the edge of town. Others were forced into buildings unfit for living on the other side of the country. Čunek is certainly not the first to trample on the rights of Romanies. There is the recent case regarding forced sterilization for example.

And in actuality, what Čunek did was actually applauded by many (although some applaud the forced sterilization of Romanies, but not quite so loudly). His real troubles began when he was accused of taking a 500,000 Kč ($25,000) bribe as mayor of Vsetín from a real estate company (the one that developed the property where the Romanies used to live). It looked pretty bad in that the company had withdrawn the amount one day, and he deposited the same amount (minus a little pocket cash) the next day. He was, however, cleared of those charges.

Through all of this, he became the leader of his party, was elected to the Senate, and in order to form a coalition, was appointed Deputy Prime Minister. But now it looks like they have finally got him. He will likely have to resign because of revelations that he took welfare while he had millions of Koruna in the bank (about $100,000 at the time). Already the subject of controversy, the pressure on him is now immense. Here are some quotes that reflect the general feeling....

Čunek must explain it trustworthily, otherwise he has no chance to stay in my government.

-Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister

A normal man who has two healthy hands does not take welfare when he has millions of crowns on his accounts.

-Miroslav Kalousek, Christian Democrats Finance Minister

And what does Mr. Čunek have to say for himself?

I do not feel it as an ethical failure.

At least in this case, he is telling the truth.

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  • "I do not feel it as an ethical failure.

    At least in this case, he is telling the truth."

    LOL, with his lack of ethic integrity I guess he is telling the truth!

    The Romanies have had a hard time all over Europe. Mind you, some of the prejudice is not entirely unwaranted as Gypsies have had a long tradition as con men, but then you wonder, did they start out as con men or have their circumstances necessitated this kind of behavior?

    By Anonymous rockync, at 1:03 AM  

  • Can/should we use the terms Gypsy and Romanian synonymously?

    By Blogger Lysander Cadwalader, at 4:55 PM  

  • Rocky,

    I'm glad you caught that. Gypsies have been con men (and women) for centuries, and no, the prejudice is not at all unwarranted, although many do not fit the stereotype. It is complicated.


    Not Romanian, Romany (or Romanies in plural) and yes, they are synonymous.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 7:04 PM  

  • Got it. My bad. Opportunity to learn.

    By Blogger Lysander Cadwalader, at 10:51 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Graeme, at 7:53 PM  

  • The discrimination is all over. Where I live (north dakota/minnesota) a friend recently got put in jail for 18 months because of a juror that had issue with "gypsies." The verdict is on its way to the supreme court of ND.

    I believe that "gypsy" is kind of seen as a negative term. I think Romanies originally come from India and many reject the nomadic lifestyle.

    I find that Romanies have been amateur con-people compared to western europeans.

    By Blogger Graeme, at 7:54 PM  

  • Indeed, the term Gypsy is somewhat derogatory, but few know the term Romany.

    My understanding is that most were still nomadic right up until WWII when they were forced to settle. Very few are truly nomadic these days, and most here in CZ live off the state. They make a little extra money with petty crime and amateurish scams.

    Kind of hard to do the long con when you look like a bum.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 11:09 PM  

  • Back in the 70's (7 years of them) I worked and traveled with a couple of different carnivals. In all that time I only met one family on the road that claimed to be (true) Gypsies. At one of their booths you could have your fortune told. I never bothered with that. At their other booth you could get the best hotdog's on the Midway. I always felt they were just a family trying to make a living.

    God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

    By Blogger David Schantz, at 9:26 AM  

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