Disinfo: Washington backed the demolition of the statue to Soviet commander in Prague

Summary

The report of the American company Squire Patton Boggs, which substantiated the demolition of the monument to Marshal Konev in Prague, was of great importance for anti-Russian politicians in the Czech Republic. They write thousands of such reports every year. Of course, for the Czech political community, for their establishment, the report of a big American law firm is important.

If the business took place in America, no one would pay such big attention to it – for them, it would be just a report of another lobbying company, albeit a large one. For the Czech Republic, a small country, which is largely dependent on the mood in Brussels and Washington, this is of great importance for them and has become one of the points of the PR campaign in the PR war around the monument to Marshal Konev.

The Russian embassy will find out the role of the USA in the demolition of the monument to Konev. The Washington office of the company did not respond to requests. Apparently, they have something to hide.

Disproof

This is a recurring disinformation narrative about the statue of Marshall Konev in Prague. It is also consistent with common pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives about Russophobia and the supposedly hostile anti-Russian intentions of the West, based on which Russia can cast itself as the victim. The democratic decision to move the Konev statue to a museum has raised the ire of the Kremlin and even led Moscow to open a symbolic criminal case to investigate the alleged "defiling of symbols of Russia's military glory."

No supportive documents are given to prove the existence of an American law firm report about the statue of Marshall Konev in Prague. Even if such a report exists, it would not be binding for the democratically-elected local municipal council, which voted to the remove the statue in 2019. The leadership of Prague's Municipal District 6, which retains legal ownership of the statue, has voted to move the monument to a museum - not demolish it - and replace it with a memorial commemorating Soviet sacrifices in the fight against Hitler in general, and the liberation of Prague in particular. More information available here.

In the dispute over the statue, Russia has argued that under the Czech-Russian mutual agreement of 1993, the Czech Republic is obliged to leave the statue in place on Prague's Interbrigade Square. However, this is an intentionally false and misleading interpretation of the terms of the agreement (full text available here). The monument is municipal property, belonging to city district Prague 6, and the 1993 agreement, therefore, does not apply to this case. The statue of Konev, erected in 1980, is not a military grave or memorial and therefore it was not protected by international treaties.

The municipal council of Prague 6 voted for the removal of the statue. Basing on the protocol of the Politbureau's assembly, Czech historians established that on 8-14 May 1968, Konev chaired the Soviet military delegation sent to Prague to prepare the military invasion of Czechoslovakia. Konev was also chief of the Soviet troops in East Germany during the Berlin wall crisis in 1961. In other words, the Red Army brought not only liberation but also terror to the Czech Republic, as the mayor of Prague 6, Ondřej Kolář reminded.

Kolář said that he respects the role of Konev-led forces in liberating Prague, and the sacrifice of Soviet armies liberating Europe from Nazism. "We will strive for an art competition for a memorial to the liberators of Prague at the end of World War Two instead of the marshal Konev statue," he said before the vote. "At the same time, we will secure a dignified - and let me stress that dignified - placement of this art piece (Konev) in a memorial institution."

For similar cases, see here.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 196
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 15/04/2020
  • Language/target audience: Russian
  • Country: Czech Republic, Russia, US
  • Keywords: World War 2, Red Army, Historical revisionism, Monuments, US presence in Europe, Puppets

Disclaimer

Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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