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In May 2007, on the day of the referendum for his re-confirmation as president (he had been suspended by Parliament), president Basescu went shopping in a supermarket. The press was following him. Apparently irritated by questions, he snatched the phone of a woman journalist who was filming and recording him after calling her “birdie” while asking her if she had nothing else to do that day. He got in the car with his wife and left without noticing that the phone was still recording. In the car, commenting on the attitude of the journalist whose phone he took, the president stated: “how aggressive this filthy gypsy”. The phone was returned to the journalist, the recording was retrieved and made public. Romani CRISS NGO filed a complaint with the National Council for Combating Discrimination (NCCD) against the president. The equality body found discrimination for the expression “filthy gypsy”, but not for “birdie”, and gave the president a written warning. [1] The president contested the decision in court [2] and went as high as the High Court of Cassation and Justice. In September 2008 the Court ruled that the remark was discriminatory but did not apply any sanctions admitting the president’s argumentation that the remark should not have been sanctioned because it had been made in a private conversation. [3]



1.        Cristina Darmina Iamandi, “Basescu, sanctioned with a warning for ‘filthy gipsy’” in Romania Libera, 27.05.2007, available at: (29.02.2012). See also recording of the incident at: (Accessed on 29.02.2012)

2.        Decisions of the NCCD can be contested in a regular court of law according to Art 20, 9 of the Government Emergency Ordinance 137/2000 for the prevention and sanctioning of all forms of discrimination which the NCCD implements.

3.        Amnesty International Report 2009, Romania available at: (Accessed on 29.02.2012) and, Verdict High Court of Cassation and Justice: Basescu not guilty in the case “filthy gypsy”, available at: (Accessed on 29.02.2012)