Prague, Czech Republic – On Friday, a group of activists placed a naked effigy of President Vladimir Putin in front of the Russian embassy in Prague.
The effigy placed by the Kaputin collective showed the Russian President naked and seated on a golden toilet.
A naked Putin effigy in front of Russian embassy in Prague
The activists said the initiative was meant to protest the arrest and imprisonment of opposition figure Alexei Navalny, as well as the human rights violations in Russia and Moscow’s military involvement in eastern Ukraine.
Gathered in front of the Russian embassy in Prague’s 6th district, around thirty protesters held banners reading signs like “Naked Killer”, “Free Navalny” or “Putin’s hands off Ukraine”. They were later dispersed by local police.
According to the activists, the golden seat on which Putin is seated is a reference to the luxurious villa reportedly owned by the Russian leader on the shores of the Black Sea – as revealed by an investigation of Navalny’s organisation – and a symbol of the systemic corruption that has plagued Russia since the former KGB officer rose to power more than two decades ago.
The Russian embassy in Prague has long been an important rallying point for Putin critics in the Czech capital, outlining rising tensions between the two countries.
Prague in the Kremlin’s crosshairs
In February 2020, Prague municipal authorities officially renamed the square where the embassy is located – and where Friday’s protest was held – after Boris Nemtsov, an anti-corruption Russian activist murdered in 2015 in the streets of Moscow. “This is in line with the Czech tradition of respect for human rights,” Prague mayor and vocal Kremlin critic Zdenek Hrib said at the time.
To bypass the official renaming, the Russian embassy later changed its official registered address to the location of one of its secondary consular departments, located just 500 meters from the main building.
A nearby promenade in Stromovka park was already named after Anna Politkovskaya, a Russian journalist and human rights advocate also killed in the Russian capital in 2006.
Last year, relations between Russia and Czech officials in Prague reached a new low following the removal of the statue of Ivan Konev. A controversial Soviet commander who led the liberation of Prague in 1945, Konev also played a key role in the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia and was seen as instrumental in Moscow’s repression apparatus in the former Eastern bloc during the Cold War.
Two Russian diplomats were even expelled from the Czech Republic in June as the result of a bizarre saga that saw a Russian embassy employee spread rumours of a planned assassination plot against Prague mayor Zdenek Hrib.
Main photo credit: Kaputin