As just about anyone who’s ever worked in an office can attest, one of life’s most festering annoyances are people who don’t return pens that they borrow. Now it appears as though Czech Republic President Vaclav Klaus may be one of those people, and the citizens of the nation he rules over are none too pleased about it.
Klaus, whose most notable prior controversy was probably his flat rejection of climate change science, was caught on video coyly pocketing a ceremonial pen during a recent visit to Chile. What’s more, the brazen stylus heist took place in full view of the media during a ceremony to announce a trade agreement. The video shows Klaus clearly admiring the pen, then slowly moving it into one of his jacket pockets as Chilean President Sebastian Pinera speaks to the assembled members of the media.
Here’s a video of the incident, complete with graphics and a humorous soundtrack:
Now, Reuters is reporting that some Czech citizens are accusing Klaus of being a kleptomaniac. But the president’s staffers claim that he had every right to take the pen—and that he was, in fact, acting entirely in line with established Czech state protocols. “We at the Prague Castle always give such a pen to delegations, along with a notepad,” presidential spokesman Radim Ochvat told the news agency.
The conservative Klaus relishes being at odds with the mainstream and his views often dramatically differ from those of his archrival Vaclav Havel, whom he replaced as president in 2003.
Klaus has been publicly at odds with the widely held view that humanity is the probable cause of global warming, and is a strong opponent of gay marriage in what is considered one of Europe’s more liberal nations. The renowned Euro-skeptic also didn’t allow the European Union flag to fly over Prague Castle, his official seat, during the Czech EU presidency in 2009 because he said the country was not an EU province.