Czech Interior Ministry replaces controversial Putin body-bag banner with symbols of peace

The Czech Interior Ministry honored the upcoming anniversary of the Velvet Revoltuion with a new banner installation bearing a message of love. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 14.11.2022 11:19:00 (updated on 14.11.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

Prague, Nov 14 (ČTK) – The Czech Interior Ministry unfurled a banner across its Prague-Letná building Sunday night bearing the symbols of a heart, Czech flag, and peace sign. The installation replaces its controversial banner featuring the Czech and Ukrainian flags on either side of an image of Russian President Vladimir Putin in a body bag, Ondřej H. Matyáš, a spokesperson for the group Decomunizace group, told ČTK today.

Interior Minister Vít Rakušan shared a video of the banner's installation on Twitter.

The group hung the Putin banner on its building with the support of the Interior Ministry on Oct. 28, during the commemoration celebrations for the establishment of independent Czechoslovakia in 1918. The banner was intended as a commentary on the connection between the establishment of independent Czechoslovakia with its resolution to defend the values of a sovereign state.

"The independence and freedom we gained then were taken for granted. This era has ended and, face to face with the aggressor, we will show again that we will defend and fight for them proudly under the Czech flag," Rakušan said of the provocative banner.

The Putin banner received significant criticism both in Czechia and abroad with the Moscow-based Russian press agency speaking out against it. The banner was welcomed by the Ukrainian media.

"We know who our friend is, bleeding for our freedom. And we also know who our enemy is and we do not let him steal either the idea of patriotism or our flag from us," Rakušan said when the banner was installed.

The more lighthearted symbols on the new banner refer to the upcoming Nov. 17 anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. On this day, Czechia celebrates Freedom and Democracy Day and International Students' Day, commemorating the student resistance to Nazi occupation in 1939 and demonstrations against the oppression of the Soviet-backed Communist government of Czechoslovakia in 1989.

Nov. 17 challenges, appeals, and encourages us to think about how Czechia responded to the values, ideals, and thoughts of these revolutionary events, Rakušan said, adding that it should also remind people that they cannot be complacent in the face of oppression, repression, and terror.

"It [Nov. 17] teaches us that in hard times, it is necessary to defend our rights with determination, persistently and unceasingly, and to stand up to defend our friends. That freedom and democracy are not to be taken for granted, on the contrary, they need to be worked on," he said.

In addition to widespread criticism following the display of the Putin banner, Rakušan said he was facing several lawsuits. The interior minister told Czech Television that he was ready to pay any fees, including a fine for inappropriate use of the Czech flag, out of his own pocket.

Would you like us to write about your business? Find out more