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In the 1960s, the U.S. saw a few bras burned — although this was not the widespread phenomenon some seem to think. Nonetheless, the link between flaming underwear and protest is well established. This message was not lost on the public last month, when the president of the Czech Republic staged a bizarre publicity stunt in which he lit a giant pair of red underpants on fire.

In June, President Milos Zeman called a surprise news conference at Prague Castle. After the press and other spectators gathered, Zeman asked his chancellor to bring out the underwear. Vratislav Mynar unfolded a massive pair of red boxer shorts and presented them with dignity to firefighters standing nearby. They then proceeded to carefully and responsibly light them on fire. What may have looked like a lighthearted publicity stunt was actually a dark message to the president’s critics.

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