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Russia Opens Probe After Prague Removes Soviet Statue

The Kremlin would like to see the monument to Soviet Marshal Ivan Konev that was taken down recently in Prague reconstructed in either the Czech Republic or in Russia, if need be.

The bronze statue of Soviet Marshal Ivan Konev was taken down last week to make way for a World War II memorial, prompting the Russian embassy to protest.

On Thursday, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu wrote to his Czech counterpart Lubomir Metnar asking him to hand over the statue to Russia.

The Czech minister responded this was not possible because the figure belongs to the city.

“We do not accept these actions and express our regrets in view of this. Of course, we would like to have this monument reconstructed — either on Czech land whose residents should be grateful to this man, we are convinced, or on Russian land if need be,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Russia’s Investigative Committee, which examines serious crimes, said it had opened a probe into “defiling symbols of Russia’s military glory,” a charge punishable by a fine or community service.

Although the move is largely symbolic, the issue could affect diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Last August, the statue was covered in red paint by unnamed vandals. Prague city hall then covered up the statue, but pro-Konev protesters tore down the tarp and held a rally in its support.

The monument was similarly abused many times before.

Marshal Kove statue was originally unveiled during the Victory Day celebrations on May 9, 1980.

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