TASHKENT, September 15. /TASS/. Czech citizens and Prague residents share the opinion of Czech President Milos Zeman, who condemned the decision to remove a monument to a WWII Soviet military commander in Prague, Russian Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky told TASS on Saturday.
"Czech President Milos Zeman, a man of culture, has stated his negative opinion on the removal of the monument to Marshal Ivan Konev, he made his opinion known. The majority of Czech citizens and residents of Prague support this high opinion," Medinsky said during an international folk and fine arts festival in Kokand, Uzbekistan.
"The monument to Marshal Ivan Konev, whose troops liberated 90% of Czechoslovakia, was made by Czech sculptors using the money donates by Prague residents, as a token of gratitude to the marshal for prohibiting soldiers from bombing and shelling Prague with heavy artillery. Due to such military commanders as Marshal Konev, we have managed to preserve historic Czech and Slovak cities," he noted. He compared this decision to the actions of UK and US aviation in the old German cities of Dresden, Frankfurt and Konigsberg.
"In this regard, the efforts of modern politicians at the district level in Prague, who forgot that their ancestors had given their lives in the fight against Nazism, are simply baffling," the Russian minister stressed.
Monument relocation plans
The municipal council of the Prague-6 municipal district on Thursday voted to relocate the monument to Konev and to create a Prague Liberation Memorial instead. The municipality is still to select a site where the monument to Marshal Konev will be moved.
The Russian Foreign Ministry on Friday expressed indignation over the decision to relocate the monument and warned that such a step would not remain without retaliation.
"The decision made at the municipal level is capable of becoming a major irritant in bilateral relations and overshadow their climate and it will certainly not remain without retaliation. We expect that the initiators of the unprecedented step will change their mind and realize all the consequences of this outrage," the ministry said.
The Russian Embassy in the Czech Republic also condemned the plans for moving the monument to Konev to a different site. If carried out, they will be regarded as "the Czech side’s failure to properly comply with its commitments under the Treaty on Friendly Relations and Cooperation between Russia and the Czech Republic of 1993," the embassy stated.
The monument was placed in Prague in 1980 on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of the city’s liberation by the Red Army’s forces under Marshal Konev’s command. The monument is a property of the municipal authorities.