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Today in Denmark: A roundup of the news on Monday

Great Prayer Day protest, Olympics ban for Russian athletes, another stabbing, and inquiry into jailing of spy jihadi: here's the latest news from Denmark.

Today in Denmark: A roundup of the news on Monday
Protesters hold posters reading "Save our Holiday" as they gather on Christiansborg Square in front of the Danish Parliament in Copenhagen, Denmark. Photo: Emil Helms, Ritzau Scanpix/AFP

Danes protest against plan to abolish public holiday

Tens of thousands of Danes protested on Sunday against the government’s plan to abolish a public holiday to help fund the defence budget, amid the war in Ukraine.

“It’s a totally unfair proposal”, said Lizette Risgaard, the head of the FH union which organised the demonstration and which has 1.3 million members in the country of 5.9 million inhabitants.

Protesters, estimated at between 40,000 and 50,000 by police and organisers, gathered outside parliament in Copenhagen and carried signs reading “Hands Off Our Holiday” and “Say No to War”.

Around 70 buses ferried in demonstrators from across Denmark. Denmark’s left-right government coalition, in power since December and led by Social Democratic Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, plans to scrap the religious holiday known as Great Prayer Day, observed since the 17th century.

The government wants to use the money generated to raise the defence budget to NATO’s target of 2 percent of GDP by 2030, instead of 2033 as previously planned.

It insists the accelerated calendar is necessary due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

17-year-old seriously injured in stabbing

A 17-year-old man was seriously injured in a stabbing in Vanløse on the outskirts of Copenhagen on Sunday evening, although by 915pm, police told the media he was no longer at danger of losing his life. 

According to the B.T. newspaper, the young man was already on the police’s radar. 

The stabbing came only a day after another 17-year-old man was stabbed in Nørrebro, with CCTV footage showing two masked men carrying out the attack. 

After a series of stabbing events, police on December 19th brought in a stop-and-search zone in parts of Nørrebro and northwest Copenhagen, which was extended on January 19th. 

Danish vocab: forlænget – extended 

Denmark opposes Russia athletes competing at Olympics under neutral flag

The Danish government said on Friday it opposed Russian athletes competing under a neutral flag at the 2024 Paris Olympics, which the International Olympic Committee is considering despite Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Since the invasion in February 2022, Russians and Belarusians have been banned from most international sporting events.  Ukraine wants to keep it that way and ban Russian athletes from competing in the 2024 Summer Olympics.

But the IOC has said it is examining a “pathway” for Russians to take part in the summer Games, competing under a neutral flag.

“It is Denmark’s official position, and it is my position as a minister, that we must not waver in our relations with Russia,” Culture Minister Jakob Engel-Schmidt told Danish news agency Ritzau.

“Russia must be excluded from all international sport as long as their attack on Ukraine continues,” he added.

Spy or jihadist? Denmark probes jailed man’s case

Danish lawmakers decided on Friday to investigate the case of a man who says he spied for Denmark in Syria, but wound up jailed by Spain over alleged IS group ties.

Ahmed Samsam, 34, a Danish national, claims he was working for Denmark’s secret service PET and military intelligence service FE in Syria in 2013 and 2014, spying on foreign jihadist fighters.

But he says they left him high and dry after he was arrested while on a trip to Spain in 2017, accused of himself supporting the Islamic State (IS) group.

Convicted and serving his sentence in Denmark since 2020, he has filed a lawsuit against the two intelligence services to force them to acknowledge his role with them. The case is due to be heard in August.

The new left-right government in power since December has rejected calls for an inquiry. But all of the other parties in parliament agreed on Friday to back a probe by the assembly’s Investigative Committee.

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For members


Today in Denmark: a roundup of the news on Tuesday

Danish ship sailed near Russian ships before Nord Stream blast, Danish Health Authority orders cancer review, Danish artist launches epic troll hunt, and Denmark third in Europe on patent applications per head. Here's some of the news on Tuesday.

Today in Denmark: a roundup of the news on Tuesday

Danish ship allegedly sailed after Russian ships near the Nord Stream

The Danish patrol vessel P524 Nymfen was sailing in the area around the gas pipelines Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 just four days before they were hit by several explosions on 26 September last year, the UK’s Times newspaper has reported. 

According to the German news site T-online, six Russian warships were in the area at the same time, including the submarine support ship SS-750, which had the mini-submarine AS-26 with it.

According to the site, SS-750 turned off its tracking device when it neared the area where the gas pipelines were blown up.

Shortly afterwards, a Swedish ship, K31 Visby, sailed to the area. 

Danish vocab: patruljefartøj – patrol vessel 

Danish Health Authority orders cancer treatment review 

Søren Brostrøm, the director of the Danish Health Authority, has ordered a survey of cancer care in Denmark after DR reported that 182 patients had waited too long for an operation at Aarhus University Hospital.

Following DR’s report, a survey found that 293 patients had waited for more than the two weeks prescribed by law over the past year. The Central Denmark Region had not reported the delays to the Danish Health Authority because the patients had accepted that the waiting time would be longer than two weeks. 

It has since emerged that the Capital Region around Copenhagen has also failed to report excess waiting times for cancer patients. 

Danish vocab: ventetiden – waiting times 

Danish artist hatches epic global troll hunt

A Danish artist famous for his towering wooden trolls sent fans on a worldwide quest Monday to find his latest creation.

Thomas Dambo has created a complex treasure hunt to find “Moon Mother”, his 100th troll sculpture, who he said has “crawled into the most secret spot in the forest” to give birth.

His giant figures inspired by Scandinavian folk tales are often located off the beaten track to tempt children and adults to venture out into nature, and to show what you can do with recycled materials.

To find “Moon Mother”, fans will have to piece together codes placed near his existing trolls across the world.

“I decided to make a super secret one and make it an intricate treasure hunt that leads you around all the other ones I’ve made through the years,” Dambo told AFP.

Denmark third in Europe on patent applications per head 

Denmark was third only to Switzerland and Sweden in 2022 in the number of patent applications lodged with the European Patent Office per million inhabitants according to the latest figures.

Denmark made 453 applications per million inhabitants, just behind Sweden on 482 and Switzerland on 1,031. See graph for details

“It is gratifying that we have continued to invest in innovation and patents even under the difficult conditions seen over the last year,” said Flemming Kønig Mejl, who leads the international cooperation division at the Danish Patent and Trademark Office.

“It just shows that Danish companies are good at prioritising research and development. It is also something that we make a living from in Denmark, and which helps to create jobs.” 

Danish vocab: patentansøgninger – patent applications