PRAGUE, November 16. /TASS/. Monuments to Soviet liberator soldiers in the Czech Republic must be preserved, President Milos Zeman told TASS First Deputy Director-General Mikhail Gusman in an interview ahead of his visit to Russia later this month.
"People who try to rewrite history do not understand it. I express my respect for Marshal Konev. I’m certain that there must be his monument in Prague, just as the monuments to those who fought for the liberation of our people, including the liberation of Prague," he said.
Zeman said any country had its own fanatics who were rewriting history.
"Fortunately, people who are minded that way (in the Czech Republic) are few," he added.
Earlier, a stela with names of Red Army soldiers who died for the liberation of Czechoslovakia, buried in the center of Olomouc, was re-unveiled after fundamental renovation. The event was timed for the Czech Republic’s Military Veterans Day. The ceremony was attended by the officials of Olomouc and the Olomouc Region, members of veterans’ organizations, students and compatriots. The state anthems of Russia and the Czech republic were played. A guard of honor fired a salute.
Controversy over monuments to Soviet soldiers
In July 2017, the authorities of neighboring Poland made amendments to the decommunization law saying that monuments and other such facilities "cannot commemorate persons, organizations, events or dates that symbolize Communism or any other totalitarian system." This does not apply to monuments at cemeteries or the territories of burial grounds, items not meant for public display or those demonstrated for scientific purposes, or as works of art, as well monuments included in the list of architectural monuments. Polish legislators want all other monuments dismantled within twelve months after the amendments take effect.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said the adoption of such a law was a deliberate provocation and promised that it would not remain without retaliation. The Federation Council asked President Vladimir Putin to instruct all agencies concerned to draft their proposals for likely restrictions against Poland.
Czech president’s forthcoming visit to Russia
Zeman will pay an official visit to Russia on November 20-24. He hopes to hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on November 21. The next day, November 22, he will spend in Moscow and meet with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Also, Zeman will address a Russian-Czech business forum.
With a large business delegation the Czech president will visit Yekaterinburg on November 23. There will be a major forum for Russian and Czech businesses.
Zeman’s visit to Russia will be one of his last foreign trips during his first five-year presidency ending next spring. In January 2018, the Czech Republic will hold a presidential election. The incumbent will seek a second five-year term.