Vandalized Soviet Tank Sailed Down a Prague River in Triumph

06.21.11 Marina Galperina

Here is Soviet Tank No. 23, a monument vandalized by artist David Černý in 1991 when it was painted pink and topped with a giant, phallic finger. Yesterday, we compared it to “Bulgarian Banksy’s” recently cartooned statues of Red Army soldiers. The tank was just sailed down the Vltala River in Prague to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Czechoslovakia.

This tank “monument” was plopped in Prague in 1945 to commemorate the Red Army liberating Czechoslovakia from the Nazis, but since 1968, it largely symbolized the Soviet-led invasion that crushed the Prague Spring period of political liberalization.

It’s been kept in a military museum, but now it’s standing victoriously on a river bank with a whole horde of celebratory events planned around it. Art-prankster David Černý was on site, being venerated for his vandalistic heroism by city officials.