A diplomatic scandal broke out between Russia and the Czech Republic due to explosions in warehouses in the Czech village Vrbetice in 2014. The explosions resulted in the death of two people. Thus, the Czech Republic accused Russia of organizing them, demanded compensation and even allowed the expulsion of all Russian diplomats from the country. gives details.
Explosions in Vrbetice: the conflict between Russia and the Czech Republic
On April 17, the Czech authorities accused the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian Federation of organizing the explosions, put the likely intelligence officers—Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov—on the wanted list and adopted a resolution calling on the government to demand that the Russian Federation pay compensation for damage after the explosion, Seznam reports.
Later, according to Radio Svoboda, the Senate of the Czech Republic recognized the explosion as an act of state terrorism "against one member state of the European Union, and therefore against the entire EU." 67 out of 72 members of the Senate voted for the corresponding resolution. In addition, they called on the government to terminate the agreement on friendly relations and cooperation with Russia, as well as to reduce the number of employees of the Russian Embassy in Prague to one.
Expulsion of Russian diplomats from the Czech Republic: scandal details
The tension has also run high due to the mutual expulsion of diplomats from the countries. Thus, the Czech Republic expelled 18 employees of the Russian Embassy in Prague. The Russian Federation, in turn, called the accusations absurd and expelled 20 Czech diplomats, BBC Ukraine writes.
Later, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, Jakub Kulhánek, said that if Russia did not take the expelled Czech diplomats back, the country would continue to reduce the number of employees of the Russian Embassy, in particular, it would send another 20 people. He gave the RF time until 12:00 on April 22.
"If our diplomats cannot return to Moscow, tomorrow at noon I will make a decision to reduce the number of employees at the Russian Embassy in Prague so that it would correspond to the current state of the situation in the Czech Embassy in Moscow," he said the day before.
But the Press Secretary of President of the RF Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Peskov, said that such demands are futile. "Just today, in his message, Putin spoke about the futility of talking with us in the style of demands," he said.
After Moscow did not fulfill the demand, Kulhánek said that now there should be no more diplomats at the Russian Embassy in Prague than Czech diplomats in Moscow and the Russian Federation should withdraw them by the end of May (about 70 employees), Lidovky reports.
Expulsion of Russian diplomats from Lithuania and the USA
Following the Czech Republic, Lithuania also allowed the expulsion of Russian diplomats. As Asta Skaisgirytė, Chief Foreign Policy Advisor to the President of the Republic of Lithuania stated, the country expresses solidarity with the actions of the Czech government and is now discussing through "diplomatic channels how best to express solidarity together." According to Respublika, among the options is the expulsion of Russian diplomats.
In addition, US Ambassador John Sullivan flew out of Russia. An Interfax source claims that he returned to the States for consultations. He will return before the likely summit of the country's President Joe Biden and Putin. This happened after the United States had imposed the most powerful sanctions against the Russian Federation in the last seven years, and Russia, in turn, had declared 10 US employees in Moscow persona non grata.
Expulsion of Ukrainian diplomats from Russia and Czechs in Donbas
Russia also expelled from the country the Consul of the Consulate General of Ukraine in St. Petersburg Oleksandr Sosoniuk—he has already left the country. As the diplomat told Interfax-Ukraine, he would later return to the Foreign Ministry and continue to defend the national interests of our state.
В то же время Чехия заподозрила Главное разведывательное управление России не только в организации взрывов в Врбетице, а и поездки пяти чехов на Донбасс. Представители ведомства якобы находились в российском посольстве в Праге под видом дипломатов. Пятерых граждан считают причастными к войне на Донбассе — они либо принимали в ней участие, либо только собирались это сделать. Полиция и спецподразделения страны уже задержали их, пишет Aktuálně.cz.
In addition, the Czech Republic suspected the Main Intelligence Directorate of Russia not only in organizing the explosions in Vrbetica, but also in the trip of five Czechs to the Donbas. Representatives of the department were allegedly at the Russian Embassy in Prague under the guise of diplomats. Five citizens are considered to be involved in the war in Donbas—they either took part in it, or were just going to do it. The police and special forces of the country have already detained them, Aktuálně.cz writes.