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Prague removes monument to WWII Soviet commander

PRAGUE (AP) — A district in the Czech capital, Prague, went on Friday ahead with a plan to remove the statue of a Soviet World War II commander. The Russian embassy in Prague condemned the move, saying it sent a protest note to the Czech Foreign Ministry about the “demolition.”

Marshall Ivan Stepanovic Konev led the Red Army forces that liberated Prague and large parts of Czechoslovakia from the Nazi occupation in 1945. His monument, unveiled in the Prague 6 district in 1980 when the country was occupied by Soviet troops, has been a source of controversy.

Russia vehemently protested when an explanatory text about Konev’s role in crushing the 1956 anti-Soviet uprising in Hungary and preparing the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia was attached to his monument two years ago.

Prague 6 mayor Ondrej Kolar said the authorities wanted to give people “full information that would not conceal what happened.” After the site was targeted by vandals, Prague 6 representatives agreed last year with Kolar’s proposal to remove the statue.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry and pro-Russian Czech President Milos Zeman condemned it but a crane at the site lifted the statue from its place on Friday morning. Prague 6 officials said the Konev site will get a new monument to honor the liberators at the end of WWII, and his statue will be transferred to a museum.

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