Prague - A memorial to the Soviet invaders of Czechoslovakia in 1968 was unveiled at the Olsany cemetery in Prague in February, the echo24.cz server has reported.
The Russian Science and Culture Centre in Prague claims that it was erected with support of the Czech Defence Ministry, the Senate, the upper house of Czech parliament, and the Prague City Hall, but the offices deny it.
The Soviet-led Warsaw Pact troops´ invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968 crashed the communist-led reform movement, known as the Prague Spring.
The new granite memorial, funded by the Afganvet Association of Afghan War Veterans, was officially unveiled near the Orthodox chapel at the Prague cemetery on February 15. The memorial plaque bears an inscription in Cyrillic alphabet reading "In eternal memory and honour of the fallen soldiers, internationalists and peacemakers."
In Russia, an "internationalist" means a soldier who provided "an international brotherly aid" to Czechoslovakia in 1968, Afghanistan in the 1980s and now to Crimea, Igor Zolotarev, deputy head of the Czech government council for ethnic minorities, said.
He demands that the memorial in Prague be removed.
Zolotarev says it is a mockery and that it also desecrates the graves of the post-1917 Russian refugees and victims of the Bolshevik terror that are situated near the memorial.
However, the Olsany Cemetery Authority has rejected Zolotarev´s request.
The photographs from the unveiling ceremony feature soldiers in Czech military uniforms, senator Jaroslav Doubrava (Severocesi/North Bohemians movement) and Zdenek Zbytek, former adviser to President Milos Zeman.
The Czech Defence Ministry has distanced itself from support to the memorial´a construction.
"People in military uniforms in the photos from the unveiling are members of civic associations, former professional soldiers who were allowed to wear uniforms after leaving the army. The defence sector has not delegated anyone to this event," Jiri Celetka, from the Defence Ministry´s press section, told the server.
The Senate has also distanced itself from the ceremony.
"This is a private activity of senator Doubrava, who can support any event just as other senators," Eva Davidova, from the Senate´s press section, said.
The Prague City Hall has not backed up the memorial either. However, its spokesman Jakub Stadler said he can see nothing controversial in it.
According to official Russian sources, 98 Soviet soldiers died during the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, mainly in various accidents, but 12 of them were "murdered by counter-revolutionaries."
Nevertheless, Czech historians dismiss such bloody incidents targeting Soviet soldiers occurred then, Echo24.cz writes.
More than 100 Czechoslovak citizens died in a direct connection with the Soviet invasion, some 500 people suffered serious injuries and hundreds were lightly wounded from August 21, 1968 until the end of the year.
A number of people left the country for the West. The hard-core communist rule after the occupation lasted until the fall of the regime in November 1989.