Prague Mayor under police protection amid dispute with Moscow over demolition of Marshal Konev monument

Czech police has provided special protection to the city mayor, Zdeněk Hřib, the mayor of Prague’s Řeporyje district Pavel Novotný and the mayor of Prague 6 district Ondřej Kolář. The latter was the initiator of the dismantling of the monument to the Soviet Army Marshal Ivan Konev.

According to the Czech weekly Respekt, officials fear Moscow's retaliation both for the demolition of the memorial and for the renaming of Pod Kastany Namesti (Under Chestnuts Square) to Boris Nemtsov Square, where the Russian embassy is located.

The publication reminds that Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu has already demanded to hold the administration of Prague accountable for these actions, and the Russian Investigative Committee has opened a criminal case into "the public desecration of symbols of Military Glory of Russia". Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed that the initiators of the demolition should be "aware of the risks of further aggravation of this situation."

In addition, the newspaper claims that the Czech security services tracked the arrival in Prague of a Russian, who may pose a danger to Kolář. They also noted the arrival of a group of Russian intelligence officers from Russia to Europe.

The monument to Soviet Marshal Ivan Konev was built on May 9, 1980 in Prague's Interbrigade Square in gratitude for the fact that the marshal ordered not to use heavy artillery when liberating Prague from the Nazis in May 1945 and thus preserved the historic buildings.

Over the years, the monument has been vandalized many times. The last such case occurred in August 2019. Unknown persons poured red paint on the monument and wrote on the memorial plate: "No to bloody marshal! We won’t not forget."

On April 3 this year, the monument was dismantled. Sergey Shoygu asked the Czech authorities to hand over the monument to Russia, but the request was refused. According to the authorities, the monument is planned to be installed in the Museum of the 20th century in the future. The mayor's office of Prague promised to allocate funds for it.

  Czech Republic, Prague

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