Prague - The construction of the memorial to Czechoslovak WWII pilots in the British Royal Air Force (RAF), which was opposed by heritage protectors, started in the centre of Prague, in the Klarov park, today.
Praha 1 začala se stavbou diskutovaného pomníku československým válečným letcům na Klárově. Dělníci 3. června v severní části parku vyhloubili mělkou kruhovou jámu, ve které bude umístěn podstavec dvoumetrové sochy okřídleného lva (výřez z vizualizace). ČTK MČ Praha 1
Workers have dug a round hole for the statue´s plinth.
The Prague 1 district´s building authority gave a permission to the monument´s location despite a negative stance of the National Heritage Institute (NPU).
The two-metre bronze statue of a winged lion, made by British sculptor Colin Spofforth, was donated by the British community living in the Czech Republic.
It is to be unveiled in the Klarov park on June 17 in the presence of Winston Churchill's grandson.
The Prague 1 authority and the British Embassy have wanted the statue to be placed in the Klarov park on the Vltava embankment below Prague Castle since the beginning. They argue that other localities considered in the centre were not suitable.
The NPU issued a negative stance on the location, saying it was not suitable since another monument (to the "second resistance" or Czechoslovak anti-Nazi fighters) is at the same place.
However, heritage protectors welcomed the initiative and proposed other localities in the centre, for instance, the Defence Ministry´s plot near the Prague Castle tram station.
The Prague City Hall's heritage protection section should issue the final stance on the British-sponsored monument.
However, the Prague 1 building authority did not wait for it and permitted the memorial´s construction on Monday, citing time pressure as the reason since it should be unveiled in two weeks.
Heritage protectors said they would file a complaint against the decision. If they succeeded, the monument might be removed.
NPU director Jiri Skalicky again criticised the Prague 1 authority´s decision today.
On the contrary, Chamber of Deputies chairman Jan Hamacek (Social Democrats, CSSD) welcomed it on Monday.