Tank ‘Tomas’ Donated by Czechs Deployed in Fighting in Ukraine
The campaign has also funded 15 Czech-made Viktor mobile air defence systems (above). Photo credit: Dárek pro Putina, via Facebook.
Prague, Feb 7 (CTK) – The tank, dubbed ‘Tomas’, bought with money from Czech donors to the “Gift for Putin” campaign, has already been deployed in fighting against the Russian troops in Ukraine, said campaign co-founder Martin Ondracek in an interview with CTK.
Ondracek said he considered the project as a unique keystone connecting Czech organisations and offices with their Ukrainian counterparts.
The organisers also plan a march in Prague and a concert to mark one year since the start of the invasion, and are preparing projects for the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine.
The Gift for Putin project was launched by businessman Dalibor Dedek at the beginning of last May. The collected funds are sent to the account of the Ukrainian Embassy in Prague. Under the aegis of the Czech Ministry of Defence, military materiel is bought on their behalf from Czech manufacturers and suppliers according to the demands of the Ukrainian military.
“We know that the tank Tomas was packed, we know that it left for Poland and we know a man who is aware of when and where it was deployed in the fighting in Ukraine,” Ondracek told CTK, adding that only a small circle of people were acquainted with the details.
He also said the marketing team of the Ukrainian General Staff had promised to release the details one day, but that Kyiv was handling the information carefully, partly due to the tank’s popularity.
“After the tank Tomas, we were collecting money for ammunition. People contributed over CZK 1 million per day, and thus new ammunition orders were being signed every day,” said Ondracek.
Donors also funded 15 Czech-made Viktor mobile air defence systems, ambulances, drones and the training of soldiers and rescuers. Besides, the Gift for Putin campaign helped organise the repurposing of two armoured vehicles from the Czech National Bank (CNB), to assist with the evacuation of severely wounded Ukrainian soldiers.
The campaign will soon publish information about the Czech-made weapons to which donors can contribute next time.
The group is also planning a mass rally called “We Are Clear” on 25 February, on the occasion of the first anniversary of the start of the war. It will offer video mapping, a march in Prague to pass by the Russian embassy and end at the Ukrainian one and an evening concert of Czech and foreign artists. The organisers also expect greetings from Ukraine to address the event.
“The war cannot be won without arms and Europe cannot allow Ukraine to lose it,” Ondracek said.
He is of the view that the campaign helped persuade the public that “arms are necessary to establish peace.” Public opinion has changed considerably in this respect during the year of the ongoing war in Ukraine, and people no longer condemn arms makers and traders, he said.
The campaign organisers have also come up with some ideas for the post-war period, such as a new project to collect money for generators.
The Gift for Putin group is cooperating with the Ministry of Industry and Trade on the zapojmeukrajinu.cz (“Let’s Connect Ukraine”) project, in which the ministry is seeking suppliers and securing the delivery of generators to Ukraine, while the campaign will be collecting money for their purchase via the Donio platform. The launch of this fundraising is scheduled for 14 February.
The first generator will be sent to a hospital for the operation of incubators on its children’s ward. Ondracek said he would like to send the second to the Ukrainian nuclear safety office.
So far, all the products purchased from the campaign money were produced or already available in the Czech Republic; while the generators will be the first exception.
So far, around CZK 385 million has been collected from roughly 100,000 donors via the fictitious arms e-shop on the zbraneproukrajinu.cz website. Along with individuals, companies have contributed to the campaign, but the list of donors is not public.
The Gift for Putin project met with an increased interest around 21 August last year, the anniversary of the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, when people were sending symbolic sums of CZK 1,968 for Ukraine.