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Prague Castle detains artist from Ztohoven group again

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Prague, Sept 21 (CTK) – Prague Castle security guards detained a member of the Ztohoven artistic group, which hung up big red trunks on the castle’s roof on Saturday, on attempting to climb the scaffolding in the complex in the afternoon, police headquarters spokesman David Schoen told CTK Monday.

The man was to give an interview to public Czech Television (CT) about the group’s Saturday “performance” at Prague Castle, the president’s seat.

However he was detained before meeting the CT crew, CT spokeswoman Alzbeta Plivova said.

“No other artistic event of Ztohoven was underway Monday,” one of the performers said, indicating that the security guards were on alert after the weekend.

The Prague Castle Guard is comprised of 572 professional soldiers, its commander Radim Studeny said, adding that some 50 soldiers guard the castle every day.

While the Castle Guard is responsible for the outdoor areas in the complex, the entries to buildings are watched by the (police) squad for the protection of the president.

Similar to Saturday, the artist had working clothes on Monday.

On Saturday, he helped other group members climb the roof of the New Royal Palace at Prague Castle disguised as chimney sweepers. They flew giant red boxer shorts instead of the presidential flag there.

Presidential Office Jiri Ovcacek confirmed to CTK that the Prague Castle guards had detained a man disguised as a worker. He added that the Prague Castle office had expected similar incidents to repeat.

Ovcacek sharply condemned the artists’ act on Saturday.

CT confirmed that it was to meet a member of the Ztohoven group.

“The Czech Television crew agreed with a Ztohoven member on an interview. It was to be given outside Archbishop’s Palace,” Plivova told CTK, adding that CT also planned to shoot the place from which the performers had climbed the scaffolding.

However, the man did not come to the meeting point and CT only monitored the Castle security guards’ intervention, Plivova added.

The detained man ended at a Prague police station. “He is suspected of two delicts – failure to obey [police] order and unauthorised entry into a building protected by police,” Prague police spokesman Tomas Hulan told CTK.

The Ztohoven group released a video-recording of their act on Facebook. “Monday the proper flag of a man who is not ashamed of anything finally flies above Prague Castle,” the group wrote on Facebook, hinting at President Milos Zeman.

Ovcacek said the perpetrators had thereby defamed the state symbols. The Presidential Office is negotiating about new security measures to improve the castle’s protection, he added.

The police announced that they had detained and then released three suspects of the act on Saturday. They are suspected of rioting and theft for which they face up to two years in prison.

The Ztohoven group is known for its provocative interventions in public affairs. Its first well-known “performance”, Media Reality, was a fictitious nuclear explosion appearing in a Czech Television weather report programme in June 2007.

A few years later, Ztohoven members applied for new identities using IDs with portraits altered by morphing. They said they wanted to show how easy it was to misuse the information on people’s private data. They also released some politicians’ phone numbers at an art exhibition in Prague.

The group’s name, Ztohoven, means both to get “out of it” and “a hundred pieces of shit.” The members of the art group have repeatedly faced criminal prosecution over their performances.

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