Foreign minister summons Russian ambassador over “revisionist” documentary
Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek summoned the Russian ambassador, Sergei Kiselyev, to Černín Palace on Monday, for urgent talks following two separate incidents, which have cast a fresh shadow over relations between the two countries. The first bone of contention was the revelation of a list last week of 89 EU politicians declared persona non grata in Russia – the list included four prominent Czechs, including TOP 09 chairman Karel Schwarzenberg. The second incident relates to the recent airing of a documentary in Russia, which, critics argue, is seeking to rewrite the history of Soviet military aggression.
The documentary comes at a time when relations between the Czech Republic and Vladimir Putin’s Russia were already dealt a fresh blow by Russian authorities handing over a list to an EU delegation of 89 politicians from across the EU banned from entering Russia – the list included four Czech politicians accused of being particularly vocal in their support for the 2014 revolution in Ukraine. President Miloš Zeman was among those voicing criticism of the ban, arguing that such measures undermine diplomatic efforts.
The airing of the documentary, coupled with the publication of this list, led to Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek summoning the Russian Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Sergei Kiselyev, to Černín Palace on Monday for urgent consultations. Zaorálek later told Czech Television the content of these talks:
Among the claims made in the Russian documentary was that outside of Prague, Czechs largely welcomed the crushing of the Prague Spring in August 1968 by Warsaw Pact troops. The Czech foreign minister described such a re-telling of history as “outrageous”. Zaorálek also told Czech Television that the Russian ambassador sought to downplay the significance of the documentary:
“The ambassador reassured me that nothing has changed in the official Russian position on the events of 1968. He said: ‘take no notice of this. It is just some film on television. You are attaching too much significance to this.’”
“The Russians must know that in 1993, we signed a treaty of mutual friendship and cooperation between the Czech Republic and Russia. And this treaty begins with the words: ‘We seek a definitive end to the totalitarian past, with the unacceptable use of force against Czechoslovakia in 1968, and any further illegal presence of the Russian military on Czech territory.’”