Swiss police warn of winter riots

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Swiss people may revolt and resort to looting if the Alpine nation is hit by a severe energy crunch this winter, the police chief of one of its cantons told local media on Saturday.

Fredy Fassler, the head of the Security and Justice Department in the canton of St. Gallen, told German-language daily Blick that a blackout would have “far-reaching consequences.”

Imagine, you can no longer withdraw money at the ATM, you can no longer pay with the card in the store or refuel your tank at the gas station. Heating stops working. It’s cold. Streets go dark. It is conceivable that the population would rebel or that there would be looting,” he said, adding that the country’s authorities should take measures to prepare for such extreme scenarios.

According to Fassler, while he does not think such a disaster is likely, police have prepared for such an eventuality. Exercises that were conducted in 2014 to prepare for a blackout scenario revealed major shortcomings, including lack of emergency generators for police, hospitals and other critical infrastructure and services, he said.

These shortcomings have been addressed in recent years, so the security forces are ready,” the police chief added, noting that his agency is even prepared to provide the Swiss with cash if they are unable to use cards in stores, given that relevant agreements with banks have been signed.

Fassler’s comments come after Swiss authorities said last week that they may place restrictions on energy consumption this coming winter, signaling that “power shortages [are] among the most serious risks” for the landlocked country.

Earlier, Werner Luginbuhl, the head of Switzerland’s electricity regulator ElCom, complained that electricity was being used “completely thoughtlessly,” and urged citizens to stock up on candles and firewood due to possible power outages in the country this winter.

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