Czech govt expels 18 Russian diplomats over 2014 blast

971
Czech govt expels 18 Russian diplomats over 2014 blast

Summer breaks but the east is getting slightly colder

The Czech government said Saturday it will expel 18 Russian diplomats identified by local intelligence as secret agents of the Russian SVR and GRU services that are suspected of involvement in a 2014 explosion.

“Eighteen employees of the Russian embassy must leave our republic within 48 hours,” Foreign Minister Jan Hamacek told reporters.

Prime Minister Andrej Babis said Czech authorities had “clear evidence” linking GRU officers to an explosion in an ammunition warehouse in 2014 which left two people dead.

“We have good reason to suspect the involvement of GRU officers from unit 29155 in the explosion at the ammunition warehouse in Vrbetice” in the east of the country, Babis said.

He added he had received the information on Friday, without explaining why it had taken so long.

“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 of our fellow citizens, fathers of families,” Babis said.

Hamacek, who is the interior minister and also an interim foreign minister after his predecessor was sacked earlier this week, said he was sorry the incident would “fundamentally damage Czech-Russian relations”.

“We are in a situation similar to that in Britain following the attempted poisoning in Salisbury in 2018,” he said, referring to the case of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal who survived a nerve agent poisoning in Britain.

Russia denied involvement but some 300 diplomats were sent home in subsequent tit-for-tat expulsions.

Hamacek said he had summoned Russian ambassador Alexander Zmeyevsky on Saturday evening to tell him about the decision.

On Thursday, the Czech Republic’s neighbour Poland said it had expelled three Russian diplomats for “carrying out activities to the detriment” of Poland.

Warsaw also expressed solidarity with the US, which earlier that day had announced sanctions and the expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats in retaliation for what Washington said was the Kremlin’s US election interference, a massive cyber attack and other hostile activity.

Prague (AFP)

Support Labour Heartlands

Help Us Sustain Ad-Free Journalism

Sorry, I Need To Put Out the Begging Bowl

Independent Journalism Needs You

Our unwavering dedication is to provide you with unbiased news, diverse perspectives, and insightful opinions. We're on a mission to ensure that those in positions of power are held accountable for their actions, but we can't do it alone. Labour Heartlands is primarily funded by me, Paul Knaggs, and by the generous contributions of readers like you. Your donations keep us going and help us uphold the principles of independent journalism. Join us in our quest for truth, transparency, and accountability – donate today and be a part of our mission!

Like everyone else, we're facing challenges, and we need your help to stay online and continue providing crucial journalism. Every contribution, no matter how small, goes a long way in helping us thrive. By becoming one of our donors, you become a vital part of our mission to uncover the truth and uphold the values of democracy.

While we maintain our independence from political affiliations, we stand united against corruption, injustice, and the erosion of free speech, truth and democracy. We believe in the power of accurate information in a democracy, and we consider facts non-negotiable.

Your support, no matter the amount, can make a significant impact. Together, we can make a difference and continue our journey toward a more informed and just society.

Thank you for supporting Labour Heartlands

Just click the donate button below