Czech police to Obama fans: Leave your perfume at home

5th April 2009, Comments 0 comments

"This is an absolutely exceptional event... he's the most closely watched man on the planet," police spokesman David Kubalak said.

Prague -- Backpacks, perfume bottles and umbrellas are on a long list of items banned in the Prague square where US President Barack Obama will on Sunday deliver his first public address in Europe since his inauguration.

"This is an absolutely exceptional event... he's the most closely watched man on the planet," police spokesman David Kubalak told AFP as officers worked on a strategy to sift up to 30,000 people through 20 metal detectors for the speech.

On Sunday morning, Obama will address the crowd in a square outside the Prague Castle, the seat of Czech kings and then presidents and a popular site for tourists that the police will close on Saturday evening.

Obama is coming to Prague for the European Union's summit with the United States, organised by the Czech EU presidency, within his first journey to Europe since he became president in January.

The visit will crimp life in several parts of Prague as the police are closing streets, bridges and even whole blocks of houses to pedestrians.

The area around Prague's Congress Centre, where Obama will meet the 27-member bloc's leaders, will be completely shuttered. Some underground trains will only pass through the nearby station without stopping.

Four thousand police officers will be on duty, also because of a rally against US plans to build a radar base in the Czech Republic which will start in Prague's main Wenceslas Square and then move over to the Congress Centre.

Obama's arrival will also restrict traffic at the Prague airport, which will halt takeoffs and landings for about 30 minutes as he arrives, said the airport's spokeswoman Eva Krejci.

Local papers have reported heavily on the security measures, including saying people must not bring cell phones or keys to the Obama speech -- or open windows along Obama motorcade's route so as not to catch the attention of police snipers.

Police later denied the information.

Umbrellas stayed on the list of banned items, but if it rains the president will move inside a palace at the Prague Castle for the speech, most probably leaving the public outside.

Weather forecasters on Czech Television said they expected "cloudy weather with occasional showers" on Sunday.


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