I See Prague, I See Pranksters’ Rants, I See the Czech President’s Underpants

Protestors replaced the Czech Republic’s national flag with giant red boxer shorts to embarrass President Zeman’s policies, especially regarding China.

A Czech art group has replaced the presidential flag over the Prague Castle with a pair of huge red pants
A Czech art group has replaced the presidential flag over the Prague Castle with a pair of huge red pants

Last November, Czech Republic President Milos Zeman’s bodyguards had to protect him with umbrellas as protesters booed and pelted him with eggs during a speech commemorating the end of communism there. The humiliation campaign continued this weekend, when the president was embarrassed by a pair of giant red underpants that was flown over his palace in Prague, replacing the national flag.

The pranksters behind the stunt, reportedly members of a radical artist collective called Ztohoven, disguised themselves as chimney sweeps to get to the flagpole and make the change. Using their website, members of the group then posted that the president was airing his dirty laundry over the castle.

They claimed to have chosen the boxer shorts “for a man who has no shame.” Zeman has made a number of inflammatory comments in recent weeks, including claims refugees would bring terrorism and disease into the country.

As for the red, the protesters said they were satirizing Zeman’s growing relationship with China. The Czech leader went on his second state visit to China earlier this month, and his foreign minister was there earlier this year. Direct airline flights between Prague and Beijing are set to begin at the end of the month.

The pranksters behind the underwear installment are no newbies to pulling off elaborate stunts. In 2007, the same group took credit for interrupting a weather report with a simulation of a nuclear attack.

But Zeman wasn’t amused. Three people were detained and later released, and on Twitter, the president’s spokesman said no one had interfered with state symbols since the Nazi era. On Facebook, he took another swipe at the group.

“I have only words of contempt and revulsion,” he wrote.

Photo credit: Ztohoven Group

Siobhán O’Grady is a freelance journalist working across sub-Saharan Africa. She previously worked as a staff writer at Foreign Policy. @siobhan_ogrady

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