Prank Referendum Held Outside Russian Embassy In Prague Over Czech Annexation of Kaliningrad
The organisers say they are expecting at least 90% support for the annexation of Kralovec. Photo credit: Honza Broul via Facebook.
Prague, Oct 10 (CTK) – Around 200 people gathered in front of the Russian embassy in Prague yesterday to hold a “referendum” on connecting Kaliningrad, the Russian exclave on the Baltic Sea, to the Czech Republic.
The organisers joined the satirical campaign supporting the annexation of the Russian city of Kaliningrad, known in Czech as Kralovec, which has triggered a flood of jokes, memes, and mock events on social media over the last few days.
The organisers plan to show the results of the “referendum” to officials of the Russian embassy. The Czech national anthem was played at the beginning of the event in tribute to the “15th Czech region”.
The mock event was a response to the illegal annexation of four Ukrainian regions that are partly occupied by the Russian army, which the international community does not recognize. Moscow annexed the provinces after a majority of its inhabitants approved the step in four “referendums”, as claimed by the Russian authorities.
“Considering that Vladimir Putin created a sort of a precedent in international law by predetermining the referendum results, we know how the referendum will turn out. We are counting on at least a 90% success,” one of the organisers, Tomas Kotrous, told CTK .
“We want to present the Czech sense of humour,” said Kotrous. “Besides that, we also have the Gift for Putin charity organisation, whose stall will hopefully raise some money for the Ukrainian army. This organisation has already collected money for the first Czech tank, Tomas, which has been sent to Ukraine.”
The event, monitored by several dozen police officers, was launched by MEP Tomas Zdechovsky (KDU-CSL), who was one of the first to retweet the Polish parody Twitter account that started the satirical campaign.
The idea of connecting the strategic Russian exclave to the Czech Republic has been spreading through the internet over the past few days; some state and public institutions, municipalities, and individual politicians have also been reacting to the campaign. Slovak President Zuzana Caputova has praised the Kralovec campaign on social media.
Zdechovsky’s speech was followed by a humorous performance by the former deacon of the Charles University Faculty of Arts, Michal Stehlik, and Czech slam poetry author Vaclav Sindelar, known by the pseudonym “Anatol Svahilec”.
Many participants came with banners reading, for instance, “Kralovec has been, is and will be Czech – VI Lenin.”
Kaliningrad, situated on the Baltic Sea between Lithuania and Poland, is the westernmost part of the Russian Federation, separated from the rest of the country.
The idea of the Czech right to the area of Kaliningrad has historical grounds, as Kaliningrad (Kralovec in Czech and Konigsberg in German) was founded by crusaders in honour of Bohemian King Ottokar II in the 13th century. Consequently, its accession to the Czech Republic is completely legitimate, its supporters joke.
For centuries, Kaliningrad was part of Prussia, then of Germany. The territory first became part of Russia only after World War II.