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(From The Slovak Spectator)
IT IS NOT unusual for historical figures and heroes from mythical tales to be used in contemporary political battles. Slovakia proved that point very well when former Prime Minister Robert Fico, shortly before the June 2010 general election, ceremonially unveiled a statue of Svatopluk, a pre-medieval regional ruler, in the courtyard of Bratislava Castle, thereby turning the past ruler and his bronze likeness into a subject of not only political discussion. The politicians of the current government are talking about relocating the statue and have asked for advice from a commission of experts on history and arts.
The Slovak Spectator spoke with Elena Mannova, a historian and expert on mythology and historical memory from the Institute of History of the Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAV), about Svatopluk, his role in the collective memory of Slovaks, and the new statue of him on the grounds of Bratislava Castle.
The Slovak Spectator (TSS): What is your opinion of the statue of Svatopluk -- the so-called king of Slovaks -- standing in the courtyard of Bratislava Castle? Should it remain there or does it belong somewhere else?
Elena Mannova (EM): Svatopluk was a successful ruler of Great Moravia but serious historians do not call him the king of …