General Vlasov commanding Russian Liberation Army troops via German Federal Archive

Russia protests proposed memorial to Russian Liberation Army in Prague

The Russian embassy in Prague today protested against the plan to build a monument to the Vlasov army in Prague's southwestern Řeporyje District

Prague, Nov 25 (CTK) – The Russian embassy in Prague today protested against the plan to build a monument to the Vlasov army in Prague’s southwestern Řeporyje District and said the step would mean Czechia’s violation of its international commitments.

The Vlasov army troops were Soviet citizens who, after being taken prisoners by the Nazis, had themselves recruited in the Russian Liberation Army, which fought side by side with Germans as of early 1945. In May 1945, however, it helped liberate Prague.

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Its commander Andrei Vlasov was a Soviet general whom the Nazis took prisoner. The Soviets executed him after the war.

Russia views the Vlasov army as an armed group established by and collaborating with the Nazi Germany.

“In accordance with the Charter of the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal, the crimes of Andrei Vlasov and his accomplices are qualified as their participation and assistance in the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Nazis,” the Russian embassy wrote on Facebook today.

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The installation of a monument to the Vlasov troops in Prague-Řeporyje would be a violation by Czechia of its commitments within the Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity from 1968, the embassy added.

Řeporyje Mayor Pavel Novotny (Civic Democrats, ODS) recently told CTK that he plans to instal a monument to the Vlasov army in the locality and that the Reporyje Town Hall will discuss the plan at its session opened to the public on December 16.

Novotny said he wants local residents to take part in the debate. In the District Assembly, the plan is supported by both the governing coalition and the opposition, he said.

If the plan is approved, the Town Hall would put up an artistic competition for the monument’s design, Novotny added.

He said witnesses of the May 1945 events still live in Řeporyje and it would be wonderful if they could attend the monument unveiling ceremony.

“The Vlasov army reached Řeporyje as early as May 6, 1945,” Novotny said.

On May 5, the anti-Nazi uprising of Praguers broke out.

May 9 is the anniversary of the liberation of the city by the Red Army.

“Řeporyje is considering installing a plaque to commemorate the evening of May 6, 1945, when the generals Vlasov and [Sergei] Bunyachenko took up their quarters here … and decided on [the Vlasov army] waging an attack on the Prague centre, which subsequently crucially influenced the course of the Prague Uprising. As [historian and MP] Mr [Pavel] Zacek put it, Prague’s fate was in fact decided on in Řeporyje,” the Town Hall wrote on Facebook in January.

At the close of WWII, the Vlasov army helped the Prague rebels combat the Nazis. About 300 of them died in the fighting. The communist regime kept silent on the Vlasov troops’ contribution to the liberation of Prague.

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Russia still does not recognise their merits. The Russian embassy in Prague previously referred to them as “accomplices of the Nazis.”

In August, the embassy criticised the Prague City Hall’s refusal to reinstall a plaque commemorating the city’s liberation by the Red Army led by Marshal Ivan Konev on the wall of the newly reconstructed Old Town Hall.

The Czech Military History Institute, however, says the text on the plaque is incorrect in historical terms.

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