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What the newspapers say: May 29, 2006

Luni, 29 mai 2006, 0:00

Political surveys fight with bird flu reports, sports scandals, spectacular storms as well as with the activitites of the Internet police and the the impact of strawberry pickers’ work abroad on the national economy for the top spot on the front pages of Romanian newspapers today.

For the first time in several weeks, Romanian dailies no longer care most about the bird flu outbreak and lead their reports with the findings of a survey of the political opinions among Romanians.

According to the CURS poll published this weekend, most Romanians would like to see Theodor Stolojan, a presidential aide whom President Traian Basescu has been pushing in the limelight, as head of the government.

According to Evenimentul Zilei, some 29% of the population would like to see Stolojan replacing incumbent PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu, as most other politicians who might have the job cannot garner more than a 10% support.

Stolojan was a prime minister in a Social-Democratic government in the nineties. Which might explain how he’s now supported by voters of the governing Liberal-Democratic coalition and the electorate of the Social-Democratic opposition.

Meanwhile, Gandul notes that a recent surgical intervention for hernia President Traian Basescu suffered several weeks ago strengthened his hold of the public opinion, as 68% of Romanians support him – five more percentage points than in February.

The newspaper shows more than 50% of the population agree with the fact that Basescu opted to undergo the surgery in a hospital abroad and not in Romania.

Working abroad is the issue of the day as Cotidianul evaluates the impact of Romanians working abroad legally – the so-called “strawberry pickers”, the nickname of Romanians working in Spanish agriculture.

The paper notes they have brought some 1 billion euro to the Romanian economy last year, compared to the 3.7 billion euro sent by Romanian migrants overall.

And Cotidianul lists an imports boom, a lack of workforce on the Romanian market, indirect inflationary pressures and lower revenues to the state budget as quantifiable negative effects of Romanians working elsewhere in Europe.

Controversial businessman Sorin Ovidiu Vantu, one of the richest Romanians, is another one who likes to run his deals from abroad.

Evenimentul Zilei investigates the businesses run by the man most blamed for the collapse of a high-impact financial scheme years ago, six years since he left thousands of “investors” – as he stands accused - without a penny.

According to the newspaper, SO Vantu no longer cares to do business through Romanian firms and opts to build up his fortune through a series of front men and off-shore companies established in fiscal paradises.

Romania also imports trends from abroad, especially as it gets ready to join the European Union. One such trend is a campaign against people who defy intellectual property regulations and continue to illegally distribute music and movie files through the Internet, according to Cotidianul.

But while a first stage of the campaign focused on individual Internet surfers, authorities back down at public outrage and instead will focus on small, partially “neighborhood” networks that encourage the breach of intellectual property rights.

Elsewhere in the newspapers, Evenimentul Zilei reports that the top star of the national football team, Adrian Mutu, has engaged in a terrible war of words with coach Victor Piturca during a training tour in the US.

The conflict between the two may leave deep scars on the team as they threatened and cursed each other in public, after Mutu failed to obey the orders of Piturca at matches against Uruguay and Northern Ireland.

Adevarul, meanwhile, is more interested in the continuation of efforts to contain the bird flu outbreak in Romania.

The newspaper quotes the manager of a farm in Codlea, thought to be the origin of the outbreak, who accused Romanian vets involved in the containment effort of incapacity to make a difference between the H5N1 virus and more mundane infectious diseases.

And the same Adevarul reports on the series of storms that ravaged Romania this weekend, when weather conditions similar to tornadoes hit the city of Deva in central Romania, hurting too young girls, and the mountain resort of Sinaia, where four children and two adults were also hurt by falling trees.

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