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Group of ambassadors protest at new info on Konev’s statue

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Prague, Jan 4 (CTK) – A group of post-Soviet states’ ambassadors have protested at a Prague district’s plan to put an information plaque at a local statue of Red Army Marshall Ivan Konev that would also mention negative aspects of his role in history, the Czech Foreign Ministry told CTK on Thursday.

The protest was voiced by the ambassadors of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Azerbaijan in an open letter addressed to Foreign Minister Martin Stropnicky (ANO).

“The communication about the issue by means of an open letter has surprised us. We are preparing an answer in the same form, whose exact wording we will not present for now, however, the ministry’s spokeswoman Irena Valentova told CTK.

“In general, we can say our answer will be in the similar sense like our previous reaction to the diplomatic note the Russian embassy addressed to us last November, when we said the [Konev] monument is a part of the Prague 6th district’s property and it is up to the district town hall to decide on its arrangement,” Valentova added.

In the letter available on the Russian embassy’s website, the signatories wrote that they see the planned plaque as the town hall’s attempt to rewrite history.

“We consider the decision by the Prague district leadership an attempt to belittle the significance of the monument which is a symbol of Prague inhabitants’ gratitude for the liberation [of the city],” they wrote, adding that the decision has political subtext.

Prague 6 Mayor Ondrej Kolar (TOP 09) told CTK that he does not understand why some feel offended by the effort of others to remedy the sins of the past.

The monument was built during the period of normalisation, when communist hardliners were in power in the 1970s and the 1980s as a gesture emphasising Prague’s alliance with the Soviet Union.

“The current plaque on the monument is nothing but normalisation prattle,” Kolar said.

“Russia is wrong [in asking the state for a remedy]. The monument is owned by Prague 6, which cares for it and finances its maintenance, and therefore it has the right to decide on what will be done with it,”Kolar said.

In November, the Prague 6 district assembly approved the placing of a brief CV of Konev on the statue pedestal with the aim to highlight the historical context.

Moscow reacted by a protesting diplomatic note.

“I think Russia should apologise for meddling in internal affairs of the Czech Republic as a sovereign state. Second, the Russians should stop doing so,” Kolar said.

Marshall Konev (1897-1973) took part in the liberation of Prague, a part of Poland, Silesia and Saxony at the end of World War Two. However, he also led the bloody suppression of the Hungarian uprising in 1956 and held a post in Berlin when the Berlin Wall was built in 1961.

In 1968, Konev supervised the intelligence survey of Czechoslovakia ahead of the Soviet-led invasion of the country.

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