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Prague Officials Remove Statue of Controversial Russian General

The statue of a Soviet World War II commander Marshal Ivan Konev is loaded onto a truck after being removed from its site in Prague, Czech Republic, April 3, 2020.

Officials in Prague on Friday removed the statue of a controversial Russian World War II army commander, under protests from Russia and the pro-Russia Czech Republic President Milos Zeman.

Marshal Ivan Konev led forces of the Soviet Union's Red Army into what was then Czechoslovakia and Prague itself in 1945, liberating it from Nazi occupation. The statue honoring Konev was erected in 1980, when Czechoslovakia was part of the Soviet bloc.

The statue became a subject of controversy after the fall of the communist Czech government in 1989, because of Konev's post-World War II activities, most notably playing a leading role in crushing an uprising in Hungary in 1956. Czech historians say he also played a role in the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslavkia.

After the statue was targeted by vandals, city officials in Prague's 6th district proposed removing it and formally approved the move Thursday.

Russia's foreign ministry and its embassy in Prague issued statements condemning the removal, and Zeman also expressed opposition to the move.

City officials said they will erect a new memorial to World War II liberators at the site and the statue will be transferred to a museum.