Prague monument to Communist victims damaged in explosion

Prague monument to Communist victims, photo: CTK

Police in Prague have launched an investigation after a monument to victims of the Communist era was damaged in an explosion. No-one was injured in the blast, which is believed to have occurred early on Sunday morning. Police are now examining traces of the explosive for clues as to who carried out the attack.

Prague monument to Communist victims,  photo: CTK
Rob Cameron joins me in the studio now, Rob, first of all, tell us a bit more about the monument.

"The monument is by Czech sculptor Olbram Zoubek, and was opened to the public in May last year. It features a series of seven life-sized human figures, descending a flight of concrete steps at the bottom of Petrin Hill, in Prague's Mala Strana district. The bronze figures - who are in various states of destruction - are meant to symbolise political prisoners from the Communist era.

Right, so what happened this weekend?

"The details remain sketchy, but according to the police, someone planted an as-yet unknown explosive substance on statue number three in the series, and detonated it some time in the early hours of Sunday morning. The explosion ripped a hole in the statue, which will have to be removed for repairs."

You say the explosion happened in the early hours of Sunday morning - it's now Tuesday, why has it only come to light now?

"Well the police say they weren't told about the incident until Monday, when they were contacted by local people. So the story has taken a few days to reach the media; it was only reported in today's papers."

Prague monument to Communist victims,  photo: CTK
And I gather the monument is no stranger to controversy?

"Absolutely, the monument certainly isn't to everyone's liking. Earlier this year, a group of local artists held a demonstration at the memorial, saying it was kitschy and in poor taste. Feminists don't like it because the figures are all male, and many women were among those persecuted by the Communists. Then in August - around the 35th anniversary of Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia - someone covered the statues in red adhesive tape, forming various abusive slogans. That was obviously a political act, though once again the police don't know who did it."

And this isn't even the first time someone has detonated a bomb at the site, is that correct?

"Apparently so. TV Nova claimed last night on their main evening news programme that this is actually the second bomb attack - according to locals there was another explosion just a month ago, on October 10th. That was later confirmed by police."

Right, so the big question is - who could be responsible for these attacks?

"That's very hard to tell. All I can do is quote Stanislav Drobny, head of the Confederation of Former Political Prisoners, who said he believed the people behind it were hard-line sympathisers of the former Communist regime. But it's up to the police to find out."