The Czech Republic is deporting 18 Russian diplomats accused of espionage. The Czech intelligence service has identified 18 members of the Russian embassy in Prague as agents of Moscow’s spy services, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Hamacek said.
“Eighteen Russian embassy officials must leave our democracy within 48 hours,” he added. For his part, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said there was “clear evidence” that GRU agents, members of the Russian military’s intelligence services, were involved in the explosion at an army ammunition depot in 2014.
There is a reasonable suspicion that Russian secret agents of the GRU service were involved in the 2014 explosions of an ammunition dump in the Czech village of Vrbětice. The Czech Republic has consequently expelled 18 Russian diplomats.
— Andrej Babiš (@AndrejBabis) April 17, 2021
“There is a reasonable suspicion that Russian secret agents of the GRU service were involved in the 2014 explosions of an ammunition dump in the Czech village of Vrbětice”, said the Prime Minister, clarifying that he received the information yesterday, without explaining why the government had no information so far.
“The explosion led to huge material damage and posed a serious threat to the lives of many local people, but above all it killed two citizens,” the Czech prime minister added. The revelations “will damage Russian-Czech relations,” predicted Jan Hamacek, who has temporarily replaced his pro-European predecessor,
Tomáš Petříček. Petříček was ousted on Monday by President Milos Zeman for opposing the use of Russian vaccine Sputnik V without the European Medicines Agency approval. Tomáš Petříček had also opposed Russia’s possible involvement in a nuclear project in the Czech Republic.
“We are in a situation similar to that in Britain following the attempted poisoning in Salisbury,” the foreign minister said, referring to the Scripal case.
Poland on Thursday announced the expulsion of three Russian diplomats accused of “hostile acts” after the United States took appropriate action in response to a series of hostile acts attributed to Moscow. The Czech Republic “has apparently decided to close its embassy in Moscow,” a diplomatic source in Moscow was quoted as saying by Russia’s Interfax news agency.
With information from: CNA/APA-MPA-AFP-Reuters, defenceredefined.com.cy
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