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The Czech Republic expels 18 Russian diplomats who were involved in the explosion of an ammunition depot - Walla! news

2021-04-18T16:18:13.251Z

Prague claims they were undercover intelligence agents, theirs was part of a 2014 incident in which two civilians were killed. In response, Moscow is considering closing the Czech embassy in Moscow. The US and Europe have expressed support for the Czech Republic, amid deteriorating relations with Russia over the crisis in Ukraine



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The Czech Republic is expelling 18 Russian diplomats who were involved in an ammunition depot explosion

Prague claims they were undercover intelligence agents, theirs was part of a 2014 incident in which two civilians were killed.

In response, Moscow is considering closing the Czech embassy in Moscow.

The US and Europe have expressed support for the Czech Republic, amid deteriorating relations with Russia over the crisis in Ukraine

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  • Czech Republic

  • Russia

Reuters

Sunday, 18 April 2021, 11:37

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Russian flag flies at embassy in Prague (Photo: Reuters)

The Czech Republic will expel 18 Russian diplomats on suspicion of being involved in a 2014 ammunition depot explosion, in which two civilians were killed, the government in Prague announced yesterday, which won the support of Britain today (Sunday). In addition, authorities said they were looking for two Russian citizens, linked by Britain in 2018 to the poisoning of former spy Sergei Scripps.



A diplomatic source, quoted by Russian news agency Interfax, said Russia might consider closing the Czech embassy in Moscow in response. The expulsion of diplomats and the accompanying accusations against Russian diplomats by the Czech Republic, a member of NATO and the European Union, ignites the biggest crisis between the two countries since the fall of the Communist bloc in 1989.



Czech Prime Minister Andrei Babish said yesterday that there was "a well-founded suspicion that an explosion in the ammunition depot involved officers of the Russian secret service GRU."

Babish called the circumstances "unprecedented and scandalous," while a Russian lawmaker called his claims "unfounded."

The explosions took place in October 2014 in a warehouse located about 330 kilometers southeast of the capital Prague.

Two employees of a private company that rented the warehouses from a government military organization were killed.

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"There is a well-founded suspicion that Russia is involved in the explosion."

Babish (Photo: AP)

The U.S. embassy in Prague has announced that Washington "stands by its strong ally the Czech Republic. The United States appreciates its significant activity in imposing sanctions on Russia for its dangerous actions on its soil."



Czech Foreign Minister Jan Hamshik said 18 diplomats were required to leave the country within 48 hours.

He linked the case to the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripel, along with his daughter in Salisbury in the UK in March 2018. Britain accuses two Russian intelligence agents named Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Bushirov of attempting to poison the nerve gas using Novitchuk.



The two, along with Moscow, have denied any connection to the affair.

Czech police have now announced that they have launched a manhunt for the two, on suspicion of "involvement in serious criminal activity" in the country.

Russian agents accused of poisoning (Photo: Official website, British police)

Police said Petrov and Bushirov used fake passports, while in their British documents they were identified as Alexander Mishkin and Anatoly Chafigs.

In addition, they traveled the world with one carrying a Moldovan passport under the name Nikolai Popa, and the other with a Tajik passport under the name Ruslan Tabarov.

Police have announced that they believe the two were in the Czech Republic between October 11 and 16, 2014, the day of the explosion at the ammunition depot.

They were in Prague and later came east of the capital, to the area of ​​the explosion.



A Russian source told Interfax news agency that "Russia will not extradite the two. The law in Russia prohibits the extradition of Russian citizens who have committed an offense in a foreign country."

Czech Prime Minister Babish noted that the two belong to a special GRU unit numbered 29155. The



New York Times reported in 2019 that the same unit is a skilled intelligence unit specializing in espionage, sabotage and assassination.

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Source: walla

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