Deputy foreign minister summons Russian ambassador over Konev row

Deputy Foreign Minister Aleš Chmelař on Friday summoned the Russian ambassador to Prague, Alexandr Zmejevskij, to voice a strong objection to the “untrue and insulting” statements of Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky directed against the mayor of Prague 6 with regard to the debate surrounding the controversial statue of Soviet Marshal Ivan Konev.

Medinsky compared the mayor to a leader of the regional branch of the Nazi party NSDAP and slammed the district administration for allegedly being disrespectful to the liberators of Prague in 1945.

Mr.Chmelař stated in no uncertain terms that the fate of the Konev statue is the Czech Republic’s internal affair and reminded the ambassador that the treaty on cooperation and good-neighbourly relations signed by the Czech Republic and Russia is based on mutual respect and equality. He warned the Russian ambassador against abusing history to further the country’s present day political interests.

The Prague 6 authorities decided on Thursday that the controversial statue of Soviet Marshal Ivan Konev will be replaced by a statue commemorating the soldiers who liberated Prague in 1945, and the controversial statue of the Soviet marshal will be moved to a suitable new site in Prague.

Marshal Konev is perceived as a controversial figure in the Czech Republic. Although he helped liberate the country from Nazi oppression, he was also involved in the suppression of the Hungarian uprising in 1956 and the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961.