Something ridiculous is happening in Prague 6 (one of the self-governing parts of Prague)…
In August, somebody painted over the monument to Ivan Konev, the Soviet general that led the liberation of Prague. The municipality of Prague 6 decided not to clean the statue because, as they say, the statue gets vandalised every year. The anonymous vandals blame Konev for suppressing pro-democracy revolt in Hungary 1956, building the Berlin Wall, and lending support to Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia in 1968. However, the monument itself commemorates liberation from the Nazis. The statue has been the target of vandalism for the last four years, it has survived for most of the post-Communist era without eliciting any passions. The municipality seeks ways to remove the statue built in 1980. They have asked the Russian Embassy to take it, which I understand the embassy refuses.
Activists, some say pro-Russian activists, have therefore decided to clean the statue themselves, which they did within three days. According to their words, the paint was easy to remove without application of chemicals. The cleaning attracted a number of weirdos, a guy with a Soviet flag, a guy with a far right Czech party symbolica, and yet another guy with a ROA t-shits, and even mainstream politicians. Then the municipality put up scaffolding over the stature, and covered it with a screen. The screen was immediately torn down by activists. Mind you, this is a municipality that does not take care of other monuments very well.
A “smart bench” that cost a quarter million CZK, that is $10,000 USD, a bench with a garden. The garden dried up because there was nobody to water the plants.
A monument to a Czech war hero, a pilot in the RAF, Frantisek Fajtl, which featured a grass silhouette of an airplane, overgrew because nobody was mowing the lawn.
Somehow the municipality finds money to pay for scaffolding, and the works to cover the statue of Konev. The municipality also found money, some 50,000 CZK (more than $2000) to pay to the Playboy Magazine for a feature story about the mayor, Petr Kolář. This is him…
Update 2020: Another example of utterly unexplainable spending at the municipality of Prague 6 is the construction of public toilets for 3.6 million CZK, which is the price of a flat in some parts of Prague.
In the Czech Republic, one finds it difficult to locate a public toilet when in need. I hope Prague 6 has improved the situation.
The issue of Konev’s statue has already reached Russia. The Russian Culture Minister, Medinsky rather disingenuously called Kolář a Nazi. However, the campaign against the statue has all the hallmarks of Russophobic campaigns elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Prague for instance features the statue of Winston Churchill, who has starved out the Indians, and sold Czechoslovakia off to Stalin. And nothing happens to it. There is an attempt on the part of the East European countries to diminish and tarnish the contribution of the Red Army to victory over Naziism. The motivations might vary; nation building, or building support for NATO. The bottom line is that support for anonymous vandalism by the Prague municipality is an unfriendly act…
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