Home Business News Livid Russia expelled 20 Czechs after the explosion blamed suspects Skripal According...

Livid Russia expelled 20 Czechs after the explosion blamed suspects Skripal According to Reuters


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© Reuters. PHOTO FILE: Flag fluttering atop the Russian embassy in Prague

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By Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber and Robert Muller

MOSCOW / PRAGUE (Reuters) -Moskva expelled 20 Czech diplomats on Sunday in a confrontation with Czech allegations that two Russian spies allegedly poisoning a nerve in the UK in 2018 were behind an incident Previous explosion in a Czech ammunition depot left two people dead.

On Saturday, Prague ordered the expulsion of 18 Russian diplomats, prompting Russia to declare on Sunday “forcing the authors of this provocation to fully understand their responsibility in destroying the foundations of the government. normal system between our countries “.

Moscow gives Czech diplomats just one day to leave, while Prague gives the Russians 72 hours.

The Czech Republic said it informed its NATO allies and the European Union that they suspect Russia caused the 2014 explosion, and EU ministers were prepared to discuss the matter at the meeting. on monday.

The US State Department commended Prague’s stern response to “Russia’s subversive actions on Czech soil”.

The biggest fence between Prague and Moscow since the end of the decade the Soviet Union dominated Eastern Europe in 1989.

It also increased tensions between Russia and the West in general, partly due to Russia’s increased military military on the western border and in Crimea, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014, after a growing skirmish between government and pro-Russian ones. forces in eastern Ukraine.

Russia claims the Prague accusation is ridiculous as it previously blamed the explosion at Vrbetice, 300 km (210 miles) east of the capital, on the owner of the warehouse.

It called the deportation “a continuation of a series of anti-Russia actions taken by the Czech Republic in recent years”, accusing Prague of “trying to please the United States amid near sanctions. here of the United States to Russia “.

ARMS SHIPPING

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said the attack was aimed at a shipment for a Bulgarian arms dealer.

“This is an attack on ammunition that has been paid for and is being kept for a Bulgarian arms dealer,” he told Czech TV.

He said the arms dealer, whom he did not name, later became the target of an assassination.

Bulgarian prosecutors charged three Russian men in 2020 with the attempt to kill arms dealer Emilian Gebrev, who was identified by Czech media as the same individual. Reuters was unable to contact Gebrev for comment.

Czech police said two men using the names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov had arrived in the Czech Republic a few days before the explosion occurred.

The names are aliases used by two GRU Russian military intelligence officers wanted by Britain for the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter with Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok in the city. Salisbury, England, 2018. Skripals survived, but a member of the public died.

The Kremlin denies being involved in that incident and the attackers are still large.

Czech Interior Minister and acting Foreign Minister Jan Hamacek said police had known about the two from the beginning, “but only discovered when the attack in Salisbury happened that they were members of the GRU. That 29155 “.

Hamacek said Prague would ask Moscow for assistance in questioning them, but did not expect it to cooperate.

“DANGER AND MALIGN”

British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab tweeted that the Czechs “have revealed the amount of time the GRU will have to spend in its attempt to conduct malicious and malicious activities”.

A NATO official said the alliance would assist the Czech Republic when it investigates “malicious activities” of Russia, which are part of “dangerous behavior”.

“Those responsible must be brought to justice,” the official added.

The United States imposed sanctions against Russia on Thursday for meddling in last year’s US elections, cyberattacks, bullying Ukraine and other actions, prompting Moscow to retaliate.

On Sunday, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Washington had told Moscow “there would be consequences” if Alexei Navalny, the head of the opposition, nearly died last year after being injected with the poison. which Western experts claim Novichok, died in prison, where he was on a hunger strike.

The 2014 incident re-emerged at an awkward time for Prague and Moscow.

The Czech Republic is planning a tender for the construction of a new nuclear power plant at the Dukovany complex.

Security services have asked to exclude Russia’s Rosatom as a security risk, while President Milos Zeman and other senior officials have raised the Russian case.

In a text message, Industry Minister Karel Havlicek, who previously supported Russia, told Reuters: “The likelihood that Rosatom will participate in Dukovany expansion is very low.”



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