The 18 Russian diplomats identified as spies have 48 hours to leave the country, officials said.
The Czech Republic has announced that it is deporting 18 Russian diplomats identified as spies in a massive ammunition explosion in 2014.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Andrej Babis said Czech intelligence services had provided evidence of the involvement of Russian military spies in the massive blast that killed two people. He said the Czech Republic, as a sovereign state, had to react to those findings.
“There is a valid suspicion of the involvement of officers from the Russian intelligence service GRU, unit 29155, in the explosion of the ammunition stockpile in the Vrbetice area,” Babis said.
Interior Minister Jan Hamacek, who also holds the position of foreign minister, said Russian embassy staff had been clearly identified as spies for the Russian army.
Hamacek told reporters: “Eighteen employees of the Russian embassy had to leave our republic within 48 hours.
In Russia, the Interfax news agency quoted Vladimir Dzhabarov, the first deputy head of the Senate’s International Affairs Commission, as saying that Prague’s claim that Russian intelligence officers were involved in the explosion was innocuous. physical.
Dzhabarov said Moscow’s response to the expulsion of 18 diplomats had to be commensurate.
Several explosions rocked the Vrbetice ammunition warehouse, 330km (205 miles) southeast of the capital, Prague, on October 16, 2014.
The explosions have killed employees of a private company that is renting the warehouse of a state-owned military organization.
On Saturday alone, Czech police said they were looking for two men with different passports, including Russian passports with the names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.
The names are aliases used by two Russian military intelligence officers who have been accused by British prosecutors of trying to murder Russian spy Sergei Skripal on British soil. They and Moscow both denied involvement.
Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were poisoned with a nerve agent in the British city of Salisbury in March 2018. The attack caused the largest wave of diplomatic deportations between Moscow and the West since Cold War.