Fresh controversy over Konev statue

Prague and Moscow have once again exchanged words over the controversial statue of Soviet Marshal Ivan Konev in Prague.

Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky compared the mayor of Prague 6 Ondřej Kolář, who is trying to get the statue moved to the grounds of the Russian embassy, to a leader of the regional branch of the Nazi party NSDAP.

Kolář described the minister's statement as outrageous. Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček said he regretted the fact that the discussion surrounding the Konev statue has crossed the bounds of a rational debate. “I do not consider the statement of the Russian culture minister appropriate. I think an apology would help calm the situation, "Petříček said in a text message to the ctk news agency.

Meanwhile, President Miloš Zeman has backed Moscow’s arguments regarding the need to show respect for a war hero who helped liberate the city of Prague at the end of WWII. “I would recommend leaving the statue where it is and not embarrassing ourselves by demonstrating such ignorance of history" the president said in an interview for TV Barrandov.

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.