Support The Moscow Times!

Controversial Soviet-Era Statue Removed in Prague

While Konev is regarded as a hero in Russia, many Czechs see him as a symbol of Soviet-era oppression. Michal Cizek / AFP

Prague authorities on Friday said they had removed a controversial Soviet-era statue, despite protests from Moscow, to make way for a World War II memorial.

Plans to remove the bronze statue of Soviet general Ivan Konev triggered a sharp reaction from Moscow last year.

While Konev is regarded as a hero in Russia, many Czechs see him as a symbol of Soviet-era oppression.

He led Red Army troops that liberated Prague from the Nazis in 1945, but he was also in charge of Operation Whirlwind, which crushed the anti-Soviet Hungarian Uprising of 1956.

Prague district 6 mayor Ondrej Kolar told the Czech CTK news agency that Konev's statue would be placed in a "museum dedicated to the history of the 20th century in Czechoslovakia."

Pro-Russian Czech President Milos Zeman echoed Russian outrage over the move as "an abuse of the state of emergency," referring to a government-imposed lockdown to stem the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus.

On Aug. 21, 2019, the anniversary of the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia, someone sprayed "No to the blood-covered marshal, we shall not forget" on Konev's statue that was erected by the then communist regime in 1980.

Prague city hall then covered up the statue, but pro-Konev protesters tore down the tarp and held a rally in its support.

Read more

We need your help now more than ever.

Independent media outlets and journalists in Russia are being increasingly targeted with “foreign agent” and “undesirable” labels, threatening the existence of the free press day by day.

Your donation to The Moscow Times directly supports the last independent English-language news source within Russia.