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Litvínov Mayor to Ombudsman: Try living here

8. 12. 2008
Otakar Motejl receives a set of keys to one of the flats in Janov Romani ghetto

Prague - The Janov housing project should have a new tenant as of last Friday - ombudsman Otakar Motejl.

During his Wednesday visit, the ombudsman received a set of keys to one of the flats from town mayor Milan Šťovíček.

Šťovíček wants the ombudsman to get a first hand experience of what it's like to live in Janov.

"We ceremoniously handed over a set of keys and a lease contract to Mr. Motejl. The flat is located on Glukova street. If he decides to use the flat, we will pay for the removal of the bars from the windows. He can move in himself. Or he can set up an office here for Ms. Seitlová," Šťovíšek told Aktuálně.cz.

Mayor: See what it's like to live in Janov

Šťovíšek was reacting to the critique of Jitka Seitlová, the ombudsman's deputy, who is against paying out social subsidies in the form of vouchers. The Litvínov town hall introduced this measure in response to unemployed locals who have been causing problems.

According to Šťovíček, it is one of few measures that can help deal with people who abuse social subsidies. The vouchers cannot be used to either buy alcohol or to spend on gambling.

"The project has worked very well, and we certainly don't want to give it up," said Šťovíček.

However, according to Jitka Seitlová, the city made a mistake in giving vouchers instead of money to everyone who has been out of work for at least half a year. Officials did not decide on abuse of subsidies on a case by case basis.

Ombudsman's office: We will use the flat in Janov

Iva Hrazdílková, the ombudsman's spokeswoman, didn't want to comment too much on the mayor's offer.

"It's too bad that the mayor seems to think that we just want to criticise the town," said Hrazdílková.

She says the office of the ombudsman understands Litvínov's problems. "We are not questioning the fact that the situation in the town is very bad. The problem is that the town hall has taken a step that is against the law," she said.

She says the ombudsman will put the set of keys to use. "We don't yet know what we will do with the flat, but we will find some use," she said.

Otakar Motejl visited Litvínov on Wednesday. In the early morning hours he walked through the Janov housing estate and then spent the morning debating with city representatives, city police and the director of the Litvínov employment office.

"His visit was out of personal interest because he knows that Litvínov has been in the news a lot in the last two months. He wanted to see what it looks like there and what conditions people live in," said Iva Hrazdílková.

Unrest will continue, radicals plan to return

Radicals took to the streets in Litvínov twice in November. They were there to demonstrate against minorities.

During the second protest, which took place on 17 November, radicals clashed with police. Sixteen people were injured. It was the biggest unrest of the last eight years.

Radicals are planning to come to Litvínov again and have repeatedly asked the town hall for permission to hold a gathering.

Local Roma and members of the Jewish community have also announced demonstrations in reaction to the neo-Nazi attacks. The city has so far given permission to the Jewish community only.

The Ústecko region has been dealing with ghettos and related problems for a long time now. It has the biggest concentration of ghettos in the country and the largest percentage of the local residents - 27% - say Romani ghettos are a significant problem.

Inexpensive housing is abundant in the area and attracts large groups of Roma. Currently 31% of the Czech Romani population lives in this area.

Adapted and republished by Prague Daily Monitor.

autor: CzechNews | 8. 12. 2008

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