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Romanian media group urges boycott of president

Romanian media group urges boycott of president

A leading media group urged Romanian journalists on Tuesday to boycott Romanian President Traian Basescu when he is reinstated as president later this week, to protest an incident involving a Romanian TV reporter.
On Saturday, while Romanians were voting on whether to impeach Basescu for alleged constitutional abuses, he was approached by the journalist, Andreea Pana, who tried to ask him about the ballot and filmed him with a cell phone.
Irritated, Basescu snatched the phone from her, but it continued to record a conversation between Basescu and his wife, Maria, in which the president called Pana a "stinky Gypsy."
A Basescu spokesman later returned the phone to the journalist, and audio portions of the clip were broadcast on Romanian TV stations. The president issued an apology Monday, saying the remarks were caused by stress.
"The Romanian Press Club recommends an embargo on everything that President Traian Basescu says (on Thursday) because we consider that taking away the mobile phone of the journalist meant depriving listeners and viewers of information," said Cristian Tudor Popescu, chairman of the group, which is made up of media organizations.
Popescu also said the group would press charges against Basescu for stealing the phone. Basescu is scheduled to be reinstated on Thursday.
Basescu easily won the referendum, with more than 74 percent of Romanians backing him. Parliament had suspended the president in April and called the referendum, saying he violated the constitution by usurping the role of the prime minister and criticizing the courts.
The Constitutional Court had earlier ruled that the president did not abuse his powers.