Jaroslav Kubera, speaker of Czech Senate, dies at 72

The upper house of the Czech parliament says speaker Jaroslav Kubera has died suddenly

PRAGUE -- Jaroslav Kubera, speaker of the upper house of the Czech Parliament, has died. He was 72.

The Senate said in a brief statement Kubera died on Monday due to unspecified health problems.

Kubera was a member of the opposition, conservative Civic Democratic Party. He was known for his views critical of the European Union, feminism and environmentalists.

His death was not expected. Over the weekend, he participated at his party's congress.

“I'm shocked by the news,” said Petr Fiala, the chairman of Kubera's party. “It's hard to believe it, I'm terribly sorry about it. I have to think about his family.”

Kubera was a popular mayor of the northwestern city of Teplice when he was elected to the Senate for the first time in 2000. In 2018, he became the house's speaker after serving as deputy speaker from 2016.

“I didn't want to believe it," Prime Minister Andrej Babis about the announcement. “It's a huge shock. I really liked him, we had good relations. We understood each other.”

Recently, Kubera made local news by planning to visit Taiwan, angering pro-Chinese President Milos Zeman.

Zeman said he considered Kubera his friend “although our views sometimes differed.”

Kubera is survived by his wife and two daughters. Funeral arrangements were not immediately known. Babis, the prime minister, said he will respect the wishes of the family.