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The people of Prague who turned out to leave candles commemorating the end of the Communist regime hardly saw anything but the flickering flames. But the bronze plaque on “National Avenue” to commemorate the 1989 Velvet Revolution had undergone a sea change shortly after the official ceremonies this past 17 November. The outstretched fingers symbolising the people’s victory were now hemmed in on either side by other hands to put November 1989 in an historical continuum: on the left, Hitler salutes in memory of the Nazi occupation of November 1939; on the right, hands “giving the finger” to 1989 twenty years later.

On the website of Czech weekly Týden, Roman Týc, a member of the Ztohoven artists collective and the sculptor of this bronze entitled “There’s nothing to celebrate” explains: “Czechs threw up their arms during German occupation, and they’re still doing it today. The gesture of victory in ’89 doesn’t seem apposite any more, and even the ex-prime minister Mirek Topolánek [he did it in parliament] and Karel Gott [pop singer who never abjured the Communist regime] have given the finger in public.” In the meantime the police have put two old dish-cloths on the offending hands.

*Photo: *Karel Šanda/Tyden.cz**