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Romanian PM makes 'Holocaust denier' a minister

    The Romanian senator Dan Sova has been promoted by Prime Minister Victor Ponta to minister for parliamentary relations, only five months after being demoted from the job of party spokesman for downplaying the Holocaust.

    Mr Sova had been one of the rising stars of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) until last March, when Mr Ponta sacked him from the job of PSD spokesman following a public outcry over a television interview in which he said that a pogrom in the city of Iasi on June 1941 left only 23 or 24 Jews dead.

    During the interview, Mr Sova claimed that the Romanian pro-Fascist government had no involvement in the massacre and that it was carried out only by German soldiers.

    He was sent by Mr Ponta to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington to brush up on Jewish history after his remarks.

    Mr Sova apologised for his comments and, shortly afterwards, resumed his rapid ascent to the top of Romanian politics.

    He was one of the main PSD speakers in parliament last month during the debate which resulted in President Traian Basescu’s impeachment.

    European Union leaders and large sections of the international media have criticised the way in which Mr Ponta and his Liberal partners within the ruling Social Liberal Union (USL) rushed through Mr Basescu’s impeachment and other legislative changes, which the opposition branded as “a constitutional putsch”.

    Mr Sova’s appointment will raise further question marks over the democratic credentials of the Ponta government.

    In an interview with Romanian TV, Aurel Vainer MP, chairman of the Jewish Communities Federation of Romania, said about Mr Sova’s nomination: “This is over the top. I feel like I should wear a black armband.”

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