- Hans Weber
- July 6, 2022
Prague Has Officially Stripped Soviet WWII Commander of Honorary Citizenship
Prague City stripped a Soviet World War II commander of his honorary Prague citizenship Thursday.
The Prague City Council’s approved Mayor Zdenek Hrib’s proposal to revoke the honor bestowed in June 1945 on Soviet Marshal Ivan Stepanovic Konev.
Konev led the Red Army forces that liberated large parts of Czechoslovakia from Nazi occupation in 1945 and also contributed to Prague’s liberation. He died in 1973.
The mayor said the general and his army were welcomed in Prague in 1945 but he based his proposal on Konev’s post-war activities.
After communism ended in 1989, Prague authorities stripped honorary citizenship from Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.
Relations between Prague and Moscow were already in a downward spiral before the February 24 invasion amid what the Czechs see as Russia’s growing assertiveness over its interpretation of history.
Konev, who died in 1973, was honored for his role in helping the liberation of Bohemia from Nazi Germany.
But controversy around his role in the bombardment of the city of Mlada Boleslav, which claimed the lives of dozens of civilians on May 9, 1945 — after Nazi Germany was already officially defeated — and allegations from Czech historians that he was involved in Russian reconnaissance efforts ahead of the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia have long tainted his legacy.
In April 2020, Prague authorities dismantled a statue of Konev that was erected by the communist Czechoslovak government in 1980. For years it had been the center of controversy and frequently vandalized.
Russia threatened a response and opened a criminal case over the removal of the statue.
Konev wasn’t the only Russian to be demoted by the Czechs on May 9.
Lawmakers in the southern city of Ceske Budejovice approved a move to rescind the honorary citizenship of Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman cosmonaut, who is currently a member of the Russian parliament’s lower chamber.
In explaining the move, municipal lawmakers said that Tereshkova’s support of Russia’s war against Ukraine and her role in changes to the Russian Constitution in 2020 that set up a framework allowing for President Vladimir Putin to run again in the next election made her unworthy of the honor.
Last month, the name of the Prague street in front of the Russian Embassy was changed to Ukrainian Heroes Street and a bridge nearby was renamed in honor of a Ukrainian soldier.