Prague/Moscow, April 10 (CTK) – The investigating committee of Russia has started a criminal prosecution of the removal of Soviet Marshal Ivan Konev’s statue from Prague, its spokeswoman Svetlana Petrenko said today.
The Prague 6 town hall did so last Friday.
On Thursday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said this was a crime that would not remain unanswered.
The prosecution of Czech self-rule bodies by Russia is inadmissible, the Czech Foreign Ministry said in its press release reacting to Petrenko’s statement.
The relevant Russian legislation cannot be exacted in the Czech Republic, it added.
Petrenko said the criminal prosecution was started due to the desecration of symbols of Russia’s military glory.
She said the steps taken by Prague 6 were cynical, having damaged the obligations arising from bilateral Russian-Czech agreements.
“This is proof of disrespect for joint memory and history of the struggle of the Soviet people against fascism,” Petrenko said.
“Marshal Konev’s statue is a war memorial. The 1993 Agreement on Friendly Relations and Cooperation relates to it. However, the relocation of the statue does not contradict its wording,” the Czech Foreign Ministry said.
It also said based on agreements with Russia, the Czech Republic duly looks after 4,000 war graves, memorials and monuments.
Despite long-lasting talks, war memorials of the dead Czechoslovak legionaries have not and renewed, it added.
Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoygu has asked the head of The Investigative Committee of Russia, Alexandr Bastrykin, to examine the responsibility of foreign officials for the decisions to abolish memorials to the Soviet war dead, the Russian news agency TASS said.
“If Russia’s bodies continue with their confrontational rhetoric and acts in this spirit, it will be a signal that they have lost interest in bilaterally beneficial relations,” the Czech Foreign Ministry said.
“Local self-rule is an organic part of the constitutional arrangement of our state. From the Czech Republic’s view, the prosecution of its democratically elected representatives by a foreign country due to the execution of their mandate is inadmissible,” the Czech Foreign Ministry said.
President Milos Zeman has criticised the removal of Konev’s statue, having called it “an illicit, morally unjustifiable abuse of the crisis state” at the time of the coronavirus epidemic.
According to the RIA Novosti agency, Russia has asked for the return of the statue in Shoygu’s letter to Czech Defence Minister Lubomir Metnar.
Prague 6 wants to display the statue in the planned Museum of the Memory of the 20th Century.
The Prague 6 Town Hall removed the statue of Konev, which was installed in 1980 in honour of his contribution to the liberation of Prague in 1945, last week as planned.
Critics of the monument warn of Konev’s active role in the suppression of the Hungarian uprising against the Communist regime in 1956, crushed by the Soviet Army, the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961 and the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 that put an end to the Prague Spring reform movement.