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Demonstrators in Varnsdorf protesting non-existent "influx" of Roma

Prague, 15.9.2011 13:57, (ROMEA)

Demonstrators in the Czech town of Varnsdorf are complaining that a large number of Romani people have recently moved into the town who, in the opinion of a large number of dissatisfied residents, are responsible for rising crime there. Locals have been focusing their anger primarily on the residents of two residential hotels, one municipally-owned and one privately-owned. However, according to information reported by Czech radio station Radiožurnál, no one new has moved into the residential hotels recently.

Jan Ruszó, owner of the residential hotel nicknamed the "Sport", said in an interview with Czech Television that he rents to model tenants whom he has known personally for years. "The Romani people living at the residential hotel have lived their entire lives in Varnsdorf, they are the second generation at a minimum. None of them have criminal records, there are no delinquents among them, and you can verify that with the local police," Jan Ruszó said, adding: "There's a financial crisis, many people are out of work - so why not take it out on the Roma? However, I am not aware of any conflict between these Romani people and members of the majority."

Jan Ruszó said 20 adults and 42 children live in the residential hotel. He only rents to them if they are confirmed as tenants in good standing by the town hall. No one can acquire such confirmation if they are not permanent residents of Varnsdorf. "The town asked me to accommodate the Romani tenants of another piece of real estate after it burned down and they have been living here ever since. I rent to them on the basis of a contract the municipal authority has with my company," Ruszó said.

Romana Macová, spokesperson for the town hall, confirmed the landlord's claim. "Romani people who are accommodated there are basically locals. At the municipal residential hotels we only accommodate Romani people who are permanent residents of Varnsdorf," Macová said. It is not possible for someone from out of town to apply for housing at the residential hotel without the town's prior agreement. Nevertheless, demonstrators have fixated on the T.G.M. municipal residential hotel, where a total of 108 people live (half of them children) and the "Sport". All of the recent marches have targeted these properties.

Gwendolyn Albert, Jitka Votavová, voj,, Czech Television, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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