Reporters Without Borders and its partner organisation in Romania, the Active Watch -Media Monitoring Agency, are outraged by the vulgar and obscene comments that George Becali, a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), made to Cornelia Popescu of the online newspaper ZIUA Veche on 10 March when she asked him about contradictions between the declarations of financial interests he made to the European parliament and subsequent declarations.
“We are stunned by Becali’s offensive comments,” the two organisations said. “It is unacceptable that an MEP should insult Popescu in such a virulent and deranged manner. Politicians seem to be losing their self-control in their statements with increasing frequency, forgetting the moral obligations that go with public office and a state salary.”
The two organisations added: “The declarations of financial interests made by MEPs are not only obligatory but also of public direct interest. Journalists have a duty to pose questions about these declarations and MEPs must respond in detail. The insaneness of Becali’s comments fails to conceal his desire to avoid this subject. The exact nature of his financial interests and possessions still needs to be explained.”
Becali unfortunately has a habit of behaving in a curse and aggressive manner towards journalists. He insulted and threatened journalist Cristian Tudor Popescu in a café in February 2002 after Popescu wrote an article in the daily Adevarul about a controversial exchange of land with the Romanian army.
He and his bodyguards insulted and hit Malonga Parfait, the host of ProTV’s sports programme Fotbal Max, on 3 November 2001 after Parfait referred to him on the air in connection with his ownership of the Steaua Bucharest football team. During the attack on Parfait, Becali said he could not allow himself to be mocked by a person of African origin.
After Steaua Bucharest lost a UEFA Cup semi-final against Middlesbrough on 30 April 2006, Becali ordered his bodyguards to remove journalist Ana Maria Neagu of TV Realitatea from his sight when she asked him if he was still proud of his players. One of the bodyguards insulted her and hit her on the leg.