Some Czechs are trolling Russia with a mock movement 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 came in reaction to Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s controversial annexation of four regions of war-torn Ukraine last week.
A petition is now circulating to pry Kaliningrad from Russia’s hands, with one Russian news site reportedly taking the suggestion seriously.
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country and absorbing the region would give Czechs sea access for the first time, “supporters” of the move joked.
“It’s time to divide Kaliningrad so that our Czech brothers finally have access to the sea,” said a viral post retweeted by European Parliament member Tomas Zdechovsky.
The post included a map that showed Kaliningrad carved up in two — with the top half marked with a Czech flag and the bottom section marked with a Polish flag.
“We will hold a referendum to make Kaliningrad Czech-Polish,” he went on, using an emoji of a laughing face. “We will take the guide in Crimea.”
He then posted a Twitter poll and quickly declared while the poll remained open that “the results are clear.” A petition followed and has garnered almost 15,000 signatures as of Wednesday. An “official” Twitter account for the renamed Královec already had 51,000 followers.
“After a successful referendum, 97.9% of Kaliningrad residents decided to merge with the Czech Republic and rename Kaliningrad to Královec,” the account tweeted.
Kaliningrad has been under Russian control since the Soviet era, but is not directly connected to the rest of the country. It shares borders with Lithuania and Poland.
At least one Russian news site reported the annexation proposal as serious, according to the news site iDNES.
Zdechovsky wasn’t surprised some missed the joke.
“I think the Russians take themselves too seriously, both in terms of politics and international relations,” he told the outlet. “We need to hold a mirror up to them more and more and show that we are not afraid of them and their threats and that we are ready to support Ukraine in its struggle for the return of all territories.”