Moscow, Sept 11 (CTK) – The Russian Foreign Ministry today blamed Czech politicians for waging wars against symbols of victory over fascism and called on them to stop ridiculing the Prague monument of Marshal Ivan Konev, in a statement it posted on its website.
Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky, on his part, called the Prague events linked with the Konev memorial “a spit in the face of Czech citizens” in an interview with Rossiya Television.
“Once again we are calling on the initiators of the ‘war’ against the symbols of the victory over fascism to stop mocking the Ivan Konev memorial. We have noted with satisfaction that many responsible officials and politicians share this opinion,” the Russian ministry wrote, alluding to Czech President Milos Zeman who has stood up against the proposal to remove the statue from its place in the Prague 6 district.
The Russian ministry reacted to the sharp dispute over Konev’s statue. Ondrej Kolar, mayor of Prague’s District 6, has proposed its removal as a step to prevent its repeated damaging by vandals.
The ministry opposed the proposed removal of the statue to Russia, which the marshal’s daughter Natalya Koneva is considering. It said similar memorials have sense only in the places where the given historical events occurred.
“Any proposals for a possible transfer of memorials amount to “disgracing the significance of the famous and tragic chapters of history they are dedicated to,” the ministry wrote.
It reminded Prague of its responsibility for fulfilling the Russian-Czech agreement on friendly relations and cooperation from August 1993, in which the two countries pledged to protect each other’s military monuments on its territory.
Czech diplomacy objects, however, that the treaty does not apply to the Konev statue.
Joining the dispute, Medinsky called Kolar “a Gauleiter”, a local Nazi official, last week.
In his televised interview today, Medinsky said the events surrounding the Prague statue of Konev are “simply horrible.”
“Primarily, this amounts to a spit in the face of Czech citizens, those who fought against Nazism as well as those who expressed their thanks by building the memorial to the general-liberator,” Medinsky said.
In 1980, the statue was installed in Prague as thanks to Konev for the liberation of a large part of Czechoslovakia from the Nazis in 1945. Last year, the Prague 6 Town Hall added a plaque to the statue that explains Konev’s role not only in the liberation in 1945 but also in suppressing the 1956 Hungarian uprising, assisting in the 1961 Berlin Wall construction and the preparation of the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia.
The Konev statue has been often target of vandalism around August 21, the anniversary of the 1968 military invasion of Czechoslovakia.