Monuments to the Soviet Red Army, which were part of the townscape for many years, now find themselves at the centre of a fierce, protracted debate which appears to be gathering momentum. The Prague 6 district authorities recently decided to remove a statue of the controversial Soviet Marshal Ivan Koněv, from their premises, but an important thoroughfare in another part of Prague still bears his name.
The police were called to another incident at the statue of the
controversial Russian marshal Ivan Konev in Prague 6 on Saturday.
Several dozen people who turned up to pay their respects to the marshal on the 122nd anniversary of his birth got into skirmishes with the marshal’s critics, who point out that as well as liberating the country from Nazi oppression, Konev was also involved in the suppression of the Hungarian uprising in 1956 and the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961.
The local council has already voted to have the statue moved to a different location.
The incident has sparked fresh criticism from Russia, where the head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Russian Parliament Konstantin Kosachev said “new Nazis were emerging in the Czech Republic and desecrating the memorials to those who helped defeat them.“
The local council of Prague’s western Řeporyje district has unanimously voted in favour of building a memorial to the Russian Liberation Army troops that helped fight Nazi forces during the Prague Uprising in May 1945. The vote was preceded by a heated confrontation between the district’s mayor and representatives of the Russian federation about the historical legacy of the troops often referred to in Czech as “Vlasovci”.
The local Council of Prague’s Řeporyje district unanimously voted to
erect a memorial to the fallen solders of the Russian Liberation Army
(Vlasovci), who took part in the liberation of Prague from Nazi Germany
during the final days of World War Two. The monument should be finished in
2020, on the 75th anniversary of the war and, according to the local mayor
Pavel Novotny, will be protected by a camera surveillance system and
anti-graffiti coating. The Russian embassy in Prague and Russian diplomacy
had previously objected to the construction of the monument. The Russian
embassy in Prague has protested against the construction of the memorial in
recent weeks, calling it an “absolutely mad initiative” which helps
The Russian Liberation Army was a military unit made up of citizens of the Soviet Union, often desperate prisoners of war, who had been recruited to fight on the German side during the last years of the war.
The Russian Embassy in Prague has criticised plans to erect a monument in
the capital’s Řeporyje district to the so-called Vlasov Army, whose
leader was hanged by the Soviets for collaborating with the Germans during
World War II.
The Russian Embassy said in a press release building such a monument would constitute a violation of the Czech commitments to the 1968 Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity, defined at the Nuremberg trials.
At the start of the war, General Andrei Vlasov commanded the Red Army on the Smolensk front. After being captured, he embraced the German cause and went on to lead a collaborationist force comprised mainly of former Soviet prisoners of war.
By February 1945, his “army” – which had only one fully formed division – fought briefly on the Oder Front before switching sides and helping the Czechs liberate Prague from Nazi occupation in early May 1945.
The leadership of the Communist Party has appealed to the government to
prevent the removal of the controversial statue of Soviet Marshal Ivan
Konev from its site in Prague 6.
In a resolution approved at a meeting of the party leadership on Saturday, the party says it disagrees with the decision of the Prague 6 authorities to replace the controversial statue with a new monument to the liberators of Prague in 1945. It says that with respect to historic events the government should ensure that the statue be allowed to remain in its rightful place.
The decision to remove the statue from its present site and find a suitable new location for it has angered the Russian authorities, who issued a statement on Friday warning Prague the act would damage Czech-Russian relations and would not go unanswered.
Deputy Foreign Minister Aleš Chmelař on Friday summoned the Russian
ambassador to Prague, Alexandr Zmejevskij, to voice a strong objection to
the “untrue and insulting” statements of Russian Culture Minister
Vladimir Medinsky directed against the mayor of Prague 6 with regard to the
debate surrounding the controversial statue of Soviet Marshal Ivan Konev.
Medinsky compared the mayor to a leader of the regional branch of the Nazi party NSDAP and slammed the district administration for allegedly being disrespectful to the liberators of Prague in 1945.
Mr.Chmelař stated in no uncertain terms that the fate of the Konev statue is the Czech Republic’s internal affair and reminded the ambassador that the treaty on cooperation and good-neighbourly relations signed by the Czech Republic and Russia is based on mutual respect and equality. He warned the Russian ambassador against abusing history to further the country’s present day political interests.
The Prague 6 authorities decided on Thursday that the controversial statue of Soviet Marshal Ivan Konev will be replaced by a statue commemorating the soldiers who liberated Prague in 1945, and the controversial statue of the Soviet marshal will be moved to a suitable new site in Prague.
Marshal Konev is perceived as a controversial figure in the Czech Republic. Although he helped liberate the country from Nazi oppression, he was also involved in the suppression of the Hungarian uprising in 1956 and the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961.
The fate of a controversial statue of Soviet Army commander Ivan Konev in Prague 6 has finally been decided. On Thursday, the local council voted in favour of moving it to a new location and replacing it with a monument to the soldiers who liberated Prague in 1945. The Russian Embassy has hit back, calling the decision outrageous.
The controversial statue of Soviet Marshal Ivan Konev will be replaced by a
statue commemorating the soldiers who liberated Prague in 1945, the
district administration of Prague 6 decided at its session on Thursday. In
line with the proposal approved, the Konev statue will be moved to a
suitable new site in Prague. A proposal by the Pirate Party to hold a
referendum on the fate of the statue was rejected.
The open session, at which members of the public were able to have their say, is reported to have been stormy, with supporters of the statue calling for the mayor’s dismissal. The mayor said that while he had the utmost respect for the soldiers who had liberated the country from Nazi oppression, the Red Army had not only brought peace to the country, but in later years terror as well.
Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček (Social Democrats) says the Czech
diplomatic corps is preparing further steps in regards to the ongoing
dispute surrounding the statue of Soviet marshal Konev.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement on the Konev statue dispute in which it accused some Czech politicians of initiating a “war” over the symbols of Soveit victory over Nazism.
Minister Petříček journalists that such comments are not helping build good relations. He urged for the discussion to be led on a factual basis, with legal aspects also being taken into account. He warned that the conflict could divide Czech society, going on to say that “this is something our partners perhaps want”.