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Artistic group cuts Czech president’s flag to pieces

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Prague, June 27 (CTK) – The Ztohoven artistic group has cut the Czech presidential flag, which allegedly got lost from the Prague Castle’s roof during their “red boxer shorts performance” last year, into 1152 pieces and they will give them to randomly selected people, they said on the web on Monday.

The group is distributing the pieces of the flag in all regions of the country, along with access to a certain sum in bitcoins, one of its members called Petr Zilka told CTK on Monday.

The Ztohoven members, disguised as chimney sweepers, hung up giant red boxer shorts on the roof of Prague Castle, the seat of the Czech heads of state, instead of the presidential flag on September 19, 2015, in protest against Zeman’s behaviour in office. They said the flag had flown away.

The group released a video on Facebook saying “the proper flag of a man who is not ashamed of anything finally flies above Prague Castle.” In a statement published later, the group particularly criticised Zeman for siding with dictatorial regimes, such as China and Russia, and his vulgar language.

Zeman’s spokesman Jiri Ovcacek sharply condemned the cutting of the flag on Monday.

The group justifies it saying they thereby fight for the decentralisation of power that must be achieved by a gradual emancipation process “in a never-ending struggle with the monstrous tendencies to control our lives.”

In their statement, the artists call the presidential flag a post-monarchist symbol and a historical relic of the centralised power.

Each piece of the cut flag has been connected with the bitcoin network and got a certain value, from five to 1500 crowns. The 1152 fragments will be sent to randomly selected recipients, the group said.

The whole sum totals 35,000 crowns, that is the price of the presidential flag set by a court, it noted.

A CTK correspondent received two pieces worth 13 and 16 crowns in bitcoins in an envelope printed with red trunks at the Prague Main Railway Station on Monday.

Zilka says the flag was made of a standard synthetic fabric for banners. It is a consumer product and no original, and this was also one of the reasons why the group decided to cut it into pieces, he explained.

Ovcacek compared the cutting of the presidential flag to the murderers’ attempt to prevent their victim’s identification. “In this case it is the murder of a Czech statehood symbol,” Ovcacek said.

He told CTK that the act of the Ztohoven group had not surprised him and that it would only disgust the citizens of the Czech Republic. However, the Presidential Office will not officially react to the group’s latest act, he added.

A court will start dealing with the “red boxer shorts case” on Wednesday. The three artists have been charged with rioting, vandalism and harming a thing of another. If found guilty, they face up to three years in prison.

After the September performance, Ovcacek announced that the Castle roof and a flagpole had been damaged. The flag alone costs 33,000 crowns and the total material damage has amounted to 100,000 crowns, he added.

Courts dealt with the case in shortened proceedings, used for less serious criminal offenses, last year. However, the district and appeals courts did not punish the Ztohoven members due to the lack of evidence. The courts returned the case to the police to complete the investigation.

The members of Ztohoven, which means both to get “out of it” and “a hundred pieces of shit,” have repeatedly faced criminal prosecution over their performances.

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, the group’s 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.

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