Art group replaces president’s flag with red underpants

Three Ztohoven members were arrested and may face charges

Art provocateur group Ztohoven pulled another one of its public art stunts. This time they replaced the president’s flag flying over Prague Castle with oversized red underwear, as a protest against Czech President Miloš Zeman.

The group of three men between the ages of 33 and 41 gained access to the roof of the President’s Office in the Royal Palace of Prague Castle on the afternoon of Sept. 19 by disguising themselves as chimney sweeps.

The red underpants were quickly removed by Castle staff, and police are investigating the matter.

On the Ztohoven.com website, the group asked whether this was the president’s dirty laundry.

“Today we hung a banner over the Castle for a man who is not ashamed of anything,” they stated.

They also had a poem of sorts criticizing President Zeman for his close ties to China and Russia, and a video.

The president’s spokesman, Jiří Ovčáček, condemned the art action in a Twitter comment.

He said that nobody had dared to interfere with state symbols since the Nazi occupation, not even the Soviets.

Police detained three people on suspicion of disorderly conduct and theft, but thy have been released while the investigation continues, police spokeswoman Andrea Zoulová said.

An earlier statement by spokeswoman Jana Macalíková said the suspects had criminal pasts.

This is not the first public criticism of Zeman. At a rally in November 2014, people gathered at Národní třída and Spálená Street to hold up red cards in protest of several scandals during his term in office.

The art provocateur group Ztohoven has had run ins with police in the past over several of its street art projects.

The Ztohoven name is a Czech-language pun meaning either “z toho ven” (the way out) or “sto hoven” (the hundred turds).

On June 17, 2007, Ztohoven hacked into one of the cameras used for a live feed from the Krkonoše mountains by Czech Television for the show Panorama and inserted an atomic explosion.

Six Ztohoven members were prosecuted for scaremongering and spreading false information and faced prison sentences of up to three years. A Czech judge in 2008 dismissed the scaremongering charges,

The group also in 2009 used morphing software to make composite photos of members and get state ID cards that resembled more than one person. Members used the cards with names of other people from the group for a year to travel and vote. This led to the arrest in 2010 of group leader Roman Týc.

Other incidents they have been involved in include changing the advertising signs at metro and tram stops, altering pedestrian street crossing signs, adding a question mark to a heart-shaped sign at Prague Castle and adding a cross to the 27 crosses for those executed in Old Town Square in 1621.

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