Czech annexation of Kaliningrad prank goes viral

A fake travel website promotes the idea that Czechia should take over the Russian semi-exclave.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 05.10.2022 15:23:00 (updated on 05.10.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

An internet prank calling for Czechia to hold a referendum to annex the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad is going increasingly viral, with even the U.S. Embassy acknowledging the joke. A new website using the same font and colors that state agency CzechTourism uses already welcomes people to visit the coastal area, renamed “Královec.”

“Královec is Czechia. After the successful referendum, 97.9 percent of Kaliningrad residents decided to join the Czech Republic and rename Kaliningrad to Královec,” the website states over the top of a stock photo of the Königsberg Cathedral and the Pregel river.

The site goes on to claim that the Czech government signed the Kaliningrad annexation act on Oct. 4. 2022, though the picture used is actually the signing of the coalition agreement last year. The anti-Covid face masks are a clue the photo is a bit old.

More of the fake Královec website. Photo: Visitkralovec.cz.
More of the fake Královec website. Photo: Visitkralovec.cz.

Královec would give Czechia something it sorely lacks, which is access to the sea. Among the things people can do in the new territory – according to the sham travel website – is visit the harbor where the ship Karel Gott, named after the famous Czech crooner, is allegedly moored. The picture shown is actually the USS Gerald Ford, the world's largest aircraft carrier.

The website links to a Twitter account for Královec that has similar (mis)information. There, the Czech Interior Ministry responded that they were “racking [their] brains in vain as to where we're going to get an expert on maritime borders so quickly” and asked for suggestions.

Yesterday, the Czech Ministry of Defense tweeted that it was moving forward with its efforts to obtain F-35 fighter jets from the U.S., as both sides had previously discussed.

The U.S. Embassy in Prague responded (in Czech), “Wouldn't you also happen to need an aircraft carrier?” and added a winking emoji.

Less official sources posted doctored photos saying Czechia has negotiated the purchase of two amphibious assault ships and that Czechia has launched a Mars mission from Královec to be the first to brew beer on the red planet.

Yet another meme on Twitter shows U.S. President John F. Kennedy during his (not real) visit to Kaliningrad in 1963 saying "Ich bin ein Kralovečák," a reference to his famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech in then-divided Germany.

A petition about the annexation posted on Petice.com has received so far over 13,000 signatures. The author of the petition is listed as AZ247.cz, a satirical news website that among other things has stories about Russia’s Vladimir Putin running for Czech president and actor Steven Seagal being drafted into the Russian army.

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The petition says that Kaliningrad, also known as Královec in Czech, is a Russian city that was founded in honor of the Czech king Přemysl Otakar II.

“Since the city was founded in honor of the Czech king, it should pass into the hands of the rightful owner - the Czech Republic,” the petition says, after a brief history of the turbulent ownership of the area.

A Twitter account based in Poland, though, is calling for the land to be split between Poland and Czechia. Hopefully, the issue can be resolved peacefully as both countries are NATO members and a fight would be in bad form.  

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