The newspaper „Romani Yag” was establishes in 1999. It started to publish in February of 2004 within the framework of the project „Defending the right of Roma in Ukraine and ensuring their access to justice”. 58 numbers of the newspaper were published in the given period of time. The newspaper was biweekly and published in a volume of 10 pages and in А3 format. Defending of Roma rights in Ukraine was a basic matter of the newspaper. That is why it is an unique issue, which defends interests of this most discriminated national minority. The office of the Newspaper was located in Uzhgorod, because most of the ukrainian Roma live in this region. They state about 10% of the general population of the region. Unfortunately the financing of the newspaper „Romani Yag” didn‘t work out, because we were faced with a lot more expences than we expected for employees (printers, imposers, webmaster and journalists) to publish the newspaper on a regular basis.

Still the publication of an inter-ukrainian Roma newspaper like „Romani Yag” is an urgent task of our time. It is necessary because almost half a million of the ukrainian Roma population so far did not have their own written newspaper. It is also called for to lessen the negative attitude of the majority towards the Roma population. The Roma are still the most discriminated population of the Ukraine. The lack of Roma national representatives in institutions of the local governments leads to the fact that urgent Roma problems are not taken into consideration: Roma do not study their native language, culture and traditions at school – which makes them uncompetitive to the tasks of modern society.

We hope to restart this project and publish printed issues again. This would be on the basis of Transcarpathian cultural and educational society „Romani Yag” in Uzhgorod. It would be the first in the Roma history of Ukraine and the former Soviet Union. Roma could receive the possibility to possess their own independent issue around which we will continue to form a Roma community, cultural-educational societies and right-defensive organizations in the Ukraine. The newspaper considerably raises the status of the Roma peoples as a national minority in Ukraine. It influences the fact that official authorities have to take into account the opinion of the ukrainian Roma. That way we could form a policy concerning national minorities.

The newspaper „Romani Yag” should be published within the framework of a legal project and would mainly be dealing with the problem of legal defense of the Roma. This part of the Roma question is the most delicate one, from the point of financing by state organs and due to the cultural-educational problems of different programs. The newspaper would play an important role to promote information of the national consciousness and social activities of the Roma in the Ukraine. There exist 15 correspondent points in the Ukraine, from where we could get objective information on Roma all over the Ukraine. Besides that, the newspaper could be a connecting bond between ukrainian and european Roma and Roma legal defense organizations such as ERRC.

To make the discrimination seen which Roma are facing every day and to show the initiative of the Roma will hopefully influence the fact that the official authorities take action and stop excluding them in future. Published information will put the official bodies in an unfavourable position infront of the European Union, of which they want to become a member. Another very important thing is that the publishing of an independent Roma newspaper helps to rise the respect of the Roma as a nation and will improve the informational level of the population in the Ukraine. It will let other people know about their problems, their miserable position and of course their culture and its traditions. It will support a positive image of the Roma in the common opinion.

At the same time we have to be preparing the acceptance of new laws in the Ukraine, in relation to the juridicial and legal defense system. Publication about violation of rights of Roma will allow the changing of the current legislation in the Ukraine in direction of the European standards.

In the past the newspaper was welcomed by Roma readers from all over the Ukraine. They made their comments, which helped us to improve the work of the „Romani Yag” newspaper. The newspaper was available for readers of the Roma and the non-Roma population. During the last four years subscription to the „Romani Yag” newspaper was conducted at national level, and it was indicated in the catalogues of newspaper editions of the Ukraine. In addition the newspaper was available at newsstands in 15 regions of the Ukraine. The „Romani Yag” newspaper was also known in Russia, as it gets there on a so called “Roma post”.

Right now we hope to find funding to start up our work again. I you are interested in supporting our efforts please contact us and we can send you calculations for the financial support needed.

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