Czech meme scene calls for return of Kaliningrad to Czechia
A joke petition calling for the annexation of the Russian port city of Kaliningrad to the Czech Republic has received nearly 12,000 electronic signatures since it was posted on the website petice.cz last Tuesday. It was set up amid a wave of memes on social media poking fun at the recent referendums organised by Russia in the occupied territories in Ukraine.
“Kaliningrad, known as Královec in Czech, is a Russian city which was founded in honour of the Bohemian King Přemysl Otakar II,” the petition states, adding that many countries have controlled the city since its foundation in the 13th century. “We believe that Russia has been playing with Kaliningrad for too long and that it is time to hand over ownership of the city to another state,” the authors write, “since it was founded in honour of a Czech king, it should come back under the control of its rightful owner – the Czech Republic.”
The petition, which calls on the Czech government to “send Czech soldiers to Kaliningrad” and organise a referendum that will result in a 98 percent vote in favour of joining Czechia, pokes fun at Russia’s recent plebiscites organised in the Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions that have been condemned by much of the international community.
News site HN.cz, writes that the joke of Kaliningrad becoming Czech originated on Polish social media, which recently produced memes such as the photograph of an aircraft carrier, named after the famous Czech singer Karel Gott, leaving the Baltic port city.
Czech Twitter is now full of memes that insert references to Královec (Kaliningrad) into popular cultural and everyday images. These include the locals being displayed as characters from the popular Krteček cartoon series, or the city being featured as an option in the popular real estate search engine Sreality.cz.
Some Twitter users have even posted long threads posing as serious analyses of the “current situation in the Czech exclave”. One Czech journalist, Darina Vymětalíková, even tweeted that she had been interviewed by Radio France International about the story and that the French team had originally thought that it was actually being claimed by Czechia.
Kaliningrad, called Königsberg before the end of the Second World War, was founded in honour of Přemysl Otakar II, after he paid for the erection of the first fortress there during the crusade against the native pagan Prussians. It would later come under the sovereignty of Poland before becoming a core part of Prussia for several hundred years. It was heavily damaged during the last months of World War II and annexed by the Soviet Union at the Potsdam Conference in 1945.