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Czech ODS violates no law by its billboards on Romanies - police

Usti nad Labem, 16.10.2008 11:18, (ROMEA)

The Czech senior ruling Civic Democratic Party (ODS) in the Usti region has violated no law by placing billboards with the slogan "Work hard, gadji, so that we get better off" in the Most and Usti areas, Ludmila Svetlakova, spokeswoman for the Most police, told CTK today.

"Gadji" is the Romany expression for people who are not of Romany origin.

Svetlakova said the Most police had shelved the investigation into the case of the billboards because they had found nothing illegal on them.

According to Jiri Sulc (ODS), the governor of the Usti region who will seek re-election this weekend, by placing the billboards with such text the party wanted to attract attention to the problem of abuse of welfare benefits by certain people.

He said the fight against the abuse of social allowances was one of the priorities of the programme the ODS Usti nad Labem presented before the elections to the regional assemblies.

At the beginning of October, Sulc rejected the allegation that the ODS's campaign had a racial context.

The ODS's opponents in the elections have criticised Sulc.

"Sulc used the last chance that he has and this is the focus on xenophobia," Jaroslav Foldyna, who is the election leader of the senior opposition Social Democrats (CSSD) in the Usti region, said.

The ODS later installed new billboards that still read the original slogan, plus further ones: "Stop social allowances' abuse. For Money to Work. To Office [only] for Help."

Previously Sulc said about 9 billion crowns are annually paid out in social allowances in the Usti region alone.

"According to experts, about 10 to 30 percent of the allowances are abused [drawn unrightfully or used inappropriately]," he said.

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