Russia filing criminal charges over removal of Konev statue

Russia has announced it is filing criminal charges in connection with the recent removal of a statue to Soviet Marshal Ivan Konev by the Prague 6 district authorities.

The statue of the controversial marshal who liberated Prague in 1945, but also had an active role in crushing the Hungarian Uprising and building the Berlin Wall, has been at the centre of a diplomatic row between the two countries for some time.

Moscow sees the staue's removal as a diplomatic insult and a dangerous attempt to rewrite history.

The statue has aroused controversy in Prague where it was repeatedly vandalized with red paint on significant anniversaries.The Prague 6 authorities voted to have it dismantled in order to prevent further controversy.

Russian president Vladimir Putin on Tuesday signed a law that made damaging such memorials a criminal offense punishable by up to five years in prison. However it is not clear how Russia intends to implement this law outside its territory.

Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček has summoned the Russian ambassador for consultations.