Police in Plzeň, West Bohemia, are investigating a criminal complaint against the city’s deputy mayor, Petr Rund (Civic Democrats, ODS), lodged by 22-year-old activist Václav Rais, who claims the politician physically threatened him.
Raid, who has initiated a campaign called “Plzeň without snails and parasites in City Hall,” said the deputy mayor had demanded he remove a blog entry describing the week he spent with Rund going about his business — and then stole a camera.
The sociology student is a also member of the “Art is Defense” initiative that is opposed to the demolition of the House of Culture on Denisovo Embankment in central Plzeň, also known as the DK Inwest building, which opened in 1986. The new owners, Amádeus Real, want to demolish it and build a new shopping center on the site.
At a street protest against the demolition — and graft in Plzeň City Hall — Rund proposed to Rais that he spend a week with him at work; the activist took up the offer and wrote accounts of his experience in a blog published on the website idnes.cz.
On Tuesday (Dec. 20) Art is Defense and other activists held a demonstration in front of Plzeň City Hall. According to Rais, when during the protest Rund emerged from the building, he asked the deputy mayor when he intended to give him copies of several municipal contracts he had allegedly promised him.
Rund told Rais to stop bothering him and then left by car. Minutes later the deputy mayor returned and took Rais by the arm saying he wanted to talk to him in his office. According to Rais, once the two were alone in his Rund’s office, he grabbed him by the neck and threatened to punch him with the other hand.
“Look, you erase that blog by tomorrow, is that clear? Otherwise I’ll start defending myself. And as for the protest in front of City Hall, today was the last time you are here! Is that clear? Today is the last we see of each other!” Rais cited Rund as saying — in his blog, which he has refused to erase. Rund reportedly also told Rais that the protest against the demolition of the DK Inwest House of Culture had started to affect him personally.
When the two emerged from the City Hall, Rund allegedly grabbed a camera from one of Rais’ fellow protesters and told the owner he would return it at the end of the school year. When the activists shouted at him, Rund reportedly told them to stop by at his office to collect it the following day. Rais and several fellow protestors then went and filed a complaint with the police. Rais says the camera is worth around Kč 10,000.
Rais says the police called deputy mayor Rund who denied the whole incident including taking the camera.
Plzeň police spokeswoman Martina Korandová confirmed to the server idnes.cz that Rais filed a criminal complaint: “We have to investigate as to whether the incident took place and what happened there exactly,” she said.
Amádeus Real has yet to apply for planning permission to build a shopping center in place of the DK Inwest House of Culture. Activists are collecting signatures for a petition calling for a local referendum to be held to decide on the future of the site.
Martin Marek who is coordinating the petition told denik.cz earlier in the month that they so far have around 9,500 but require a further 4,000 to demand a referendum.