Czech city criticised for campaign attracting Russian tourists

The authorities of Karlovy Vary, a Czech spa city close to German borders, face criticism for a campaign attracting Russian-speaking tourists.

The Russian clientele was crucial, but the number of Russians in Karlovy Vary has dropped significantly due to sanctions.

The campaign was intended to be online-only so that it would only appear on computers and phones in Europe and only to people who have Russian set on their devices.

Among the suggestions for a suitable slogan was the motto: “Karlovy Vary understands you,” but it was withdrawn later, Deník N reported.

Mayor Andrea Pfeffer Ferklová, from the Renew affiliated ANO party of former Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, defends the campaign, saying it targets EU citizens.

“It is not aimed at Russia, but at people who live within Europe, most of all in Germany, and only speak Russian,” the mayor told Czech News Agency.

“We are not targeting Russians in Russia to come to us. That needs to be differentiated,” she added.

Opposition councillors have called on the authorities to end its marketing campaign.

“Populations of Russian origin in European countries, traditionally very strongly linked to their homeland, are mostly not actively opposed to the war, and on the contrary, some Russians living in Europe are organising rallies in support of the Russian regime and the easing of sanctions,” the letter from the opposition deputies reads.

According to the authors, it is clear that some Russians living in the EU do not share European values. “Moreover, at a time when we are hosting a large number of war refugees from Ukraine, this could be a security threat in the extreme for this very vulnerable group,” the opposition representatives said.

(Aneta Zachová | EURACTIV.cz)

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