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Notorious Czech antigypsyist says she's leaving politics

Chomutov, 22.1.2014 22:42, (ROMEA)
Ivana Řápková
Ivana Řápková

Ivana Řápková, a former mayor of Chomutov and former MP, resigned from the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) last Friday. Yesterday the daily Chomutovský deník reported she resigned because of long-term internal disagreements in the party.    

"My opinions are different from those of others in ODS," Řápková told the paper. "Some people in ODS still don't understand that there is no point in constantly fighting among ourselves. If that bunch don't realize this, the whole party is done for." 

Řápková confirmed to the Czech News Agency that her departure from ODS has definitively ended her political career. "I have always been an entrepreneur focused on economic advising. When my time in the lower house ended, I continued with that," she said. 

The former MP went on to say that she had ceased being a publicly active person after the lower house was dissolved last year. "Resigning from ODS basically doesn't change anything for me," she said.

As an MP, Řápková was infamous for promoting a bill making it possible for municipalities to forbid people who have committed multiple misdemeanors from residing on their territories; the bill was supported by 48 mayors in 2011 with a declaration about the "issue of the socially inadaptable", a coded term for Romani people.

As mayor, Řápková organized a notorious crusade against the Romani residents of Chomutov in 2010 during which collections agents acting for the municipality illegally confiscated welfare benefits in cash from persons who were in debt to the town immediately after the benefits were disbursed at the town hall; the agents included their own exorbitant fees in the amounts confiscated. CCTV footage of the confiscations was provided to the media and the incident became a scandal.

In 2009, police in Chomutov failed to intervene when ultra-right thugs used fireworks to attack a peaceful, properly convened assembly of Romani people protesting one of the worst incidents of anti-Romani violence in the history of the country, an arson attack that left a Romani infant with third-degree burns over 80 % of her body (simultaneous gatherings against that violence were held in 12 other locations). When the police failure to protect the demonstrators was criticized, Řápková made statements that showed not only her lack of sympathy for the Romani community, but her lack of understanding of freedom of assembly and other human rights.  

The former MP is not now considering reviving her political career. She had been a member of ODS since 1997.

Řápková indicated her position on ODS last September when she refused to run for the party during early elections. At the time she said she did not feel there was enough internal cohesion among the party's regional associations.

In 1998 Řápková ran in local elections and was elected a member of the Chomutov town council. In 2002 she was elected mayor. 

From 1 July 2007, when Chomutov incorporated, she was its chief magistrate until October 2010. From May 2010 until August 2013 she served as Member of Parliament for the Ústí Region. 

When the scandal broke out alleging that graduates of the Law Faculty of the Western Bohemian University in Plzeň had acquired their degrees in questionable ways, Řápková, a graduate of the school, faced the possibility that she might be stripped of her Master's degree. The management of the Law Faculty halted its proceedings in 2011 against her and other graduates, as it could not be definitively proven that any of those allegedly involved had committed wrongdoing.

Řápková filed a lawsuit against the university for statements it made questioning her performance there. She withdrew the lawsuit after the school's management was replaced.

ČTK, agw, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Chomutov, Ivana Řápková, ODS, Osobnosti



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