The former leader of the Reds Party (Rødt), Bjørnar Moxnes, is out on sick leave after he was caught stealing several small items from a grocery store in Oslo during the past two months. He now admits to what he calls “self-destructive behaviour” and said he’s receiving mental health care.
“I’m sorry that I’ve disappointed many people, and that this gets in the way of the important work the Reds do,” Moxnes wrote on his own Facebook page, after he’d been reported to police for shiplifting in October and November. He reportedly stole six packs of cheese and a package of salmon, and was fined NOK 15,000 (nearly USD 1,500). “I paid that on the spot,” he told newspaper VG, after he’d been called into a police hearing.
Moxnes felt compelled to give up his leadership of the Reds Party after earlier stealing a pair of Hugo Boss sunglasses from a tax-free shop at Oslo’s main airport at Gardermoen last summer. He’d been Reds leader for 11 years and developed it into a respected force in Parliament, until he shocked not only voters and party colleagues with the highly publicized sunglasses theft.
He retains his seat as an elected Member of Parliament, though, and returned to work in time for the fall session. He’s also been active, most recently in demonstrations of support for Palestinians and even calling for the expulsion of Israel’s ambassador to Norway.
Moxnes continued, however, to suffer mental health problems. “It’s difficult to say that publicly, but now I am,” he told VG. “The latest manifestation of that is in this case, another everybody saw last summer.”
Moxnes was succeeded as Reds leader by Marie Sneve Martinussen, who’s been busy rebuilding confidence in the party. “This is a serious case,” she told news bureau NTB. “It’s important that he has now spoken open and honestly about this, and asked for the help he needs.”
Martinussen said she was “very sad” to hear about Moxnes’ latest troubles, but is “glad he’s tackling his problems. What’s most important for us is that Bjørnar gets the help he needs.” She said it was too early to say what role Moxnes will now have in the party, but as an elected Member of Parliament he can’t give up his seat. His sick leave was due to continue through the end of November. Another Reds member who was on the party’s list of candidates for parliament, Stine Westrum, is taking his place until he can return.