Some Czechs are fooling Russia with a sham move to annex the country’s isolated Kaliningrad region – and one elected official even held a Twitter “referendum” on the issue.
The satirical annexation of the Baltic Sea region comes in response to Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s controversial annexation of four regions of war-torn Ukraine last week.
A petition is currently circulating to snatch Kaliningrad out of Russia’s hands, with a Russian news site reportedly taking the proposal seriously.
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country and including the region would give Czechs access to the sea for the first time, “supporters” of the move joked.
“It’s time to divide Kaliningrad so that our Czech brothers can finally have access to the sea,” read a viral post, retweeted by Tomas Zdechovsky, MEP.
The post contained a map showing Kaliningrad divided into two — where the upper half is marked with a Czech flag and the lower part with a Polish flag.
“We will hold a referendum to make Kaliningrad Czech-Polish,” he continued, using a smiling face emoji. “We will take the leader with us in the Crimea.”
He then released a Twitter poll and quickly declared while the poll remained open-ended that “the results are clear.” A petition followed and by Wednesday had collected nearly 15,000 signatures. A “official” Twitter account of the renamed Královec already had 51,000 followers.
“After a successful referendum, 97.9% of Kaliningrad residents voted to merge with the Czech Republic and renaming Kaliningrad Královec,” the account tweeted.
Kaliningrad has been under Russian control since Soviet times, but is not directly connected to the rest of the country. It borders with Lithuania and Poland.
According to news site iDNES, at least one Russian news site has reported the annexation proposal as serious.
Zdechovsky wasn’t surprised that some missed the joke.
“I think Russians take themselves too seriously, both in terms of politics and international relations,” he told the outlet. “We must increasingly hold the mirror up to them and show that we are not afraid of them and their threats and are ready to support Ukraine in its fight for the return of all territories.”