Czech ‘Anonymous’ collective threatens alleged pro-Russian ‘traitors’

A collective of anonymous activists projected the letter ‘Z’ onto the walls of Prague Castle and promised that 'traitors' will not feel safe in Czechia. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 01.04.2022 16:19:00 (updated on 01.04.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

The war in Ukraine has produced a sharp shift in sentiments toward Russia in the Czech Republic. Political figures whose attempts to build stronger ties with the Kremlin previously caused frustration are now facing a major backlash for having allegedly betrayed their country.

Such an interpretation was on display in Prague Thursday night, as a group of anonymous activists projected the letter “Z” onto the walls of Prague Castle along with the word “zrádce,” meaning “traitor.” In a video, the group said the stunt was intended to highlight Czech President Miloš Zeman’s pro-Russian tendencies.

Zeman has strongly condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but some in Czech society believe his previous friendship with Russian President Vladimir Putin can now be understood as treason. Along with Zeman, the activist group going by the name of “V Odboj” (In Resistance) singled out six other figures for criticism, including former Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, former president Václav Klaus, and Freedom and Direct Democracy party leader Tomio Okamura.

The letter “Z” has become a symbol of support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which started on Feb. 24. In March, Czech authorities moved to treat displays of the letter “Z” similarly to displays of the swastika as a symbol of Nazism.

Each of the seven figures criticized by the V Odboj collective was subject to a nickname beginning with the letter “Z,” with “zbabělec” (coward) projected onto the Václav Klaus Institute, "zločinec” (criminal) projected onto Tomio Okamura’s house, and “zloděj” (thief) projected onto Babiš’s ANO party headquarters.

The group said about the "seven unnecessaries" that "the Czech Republic is not a place where they will feel safe. We will take care of that."

V Odboj’s actions came the night after dozens of people participated in a protest in front of Prague Castle organized by the Million Moments for Democracy campaigning organization.

The protestors highlighted Zeman’s pro-Russia tendencies, chanting that “a traitor is sitting in the Castle!” and calling the President a “Russian cockroach.”

More specifically, though, the demonstration took aim at the controversial pardon granted by Zeman to Miloš Balák, the head of forest administration at his Lány presidential residence. Balák had been sentenced to three years in prison for corruption in a CZK 200 million public tender for forest management.

The protests on Hradčanské náměstí used an “Animal Farm” theme, referencing the political allegory written by George Orwell. Protestors in pig masks read an excerpt from the book containing the famous claim that “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Calls for Zeman’s abdication or resignation are familiar in the Czech Republic, with discussions about removing him from office held during his stay in intensive care last autumn. Although his pro-Russia stance has long caused controversy, on the day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine he called Putin’s actions a “crime against peace” and said the “the madman needs to be isolated.”

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