Moscow's reaction to the expulsion of 18 Russian Embassy employees from the Czech Republic was stronger than expected in terms of the existing practice, said Jan Hamáček, First Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of the Interior and the acting foreign minister of the Czech Republic. On April 18, Russia responded to Prague's move by declaring 20 Czech diplomats persona non grata.
On April 17, the Czech Republic announced the expulsion of Russian diplomats amid sudden allegations of Russian secret services’ involvement in ammunition storage facility explosions near the village of Vrbětice in 2014. On top of that, the Czech police put two Russian citizens on the wanted list. Czech authorities accused Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, suspected agents of the Russian Ministry of Defense General Staff of engineering this large-scale sabotage.
“It's not about Russia's overreaction," Communist Party Secretary General Gennady Zyuganov told wek.ru. "The Czech Republic needs to pursue an independent policy. The Czechs just yielded to the Americans’ pressure in a total loss of face and dignity. In fact, the Czech Republic and Russia are nearly neighbors, so the Czech government should better think about how to strengthen our relationship.”
Apparently, the Czech authorities don’t give it a thought. Jan Hamáček also said that since Russia had expelled the deputy ambassador, "the Czech Republic should respond." He promptly acknowledged though that there were no plans to expel the Russian ambassador.
As the diplomatic spat grew more heated, the Czech Republic excluded Rosatom from the tender for the construction of a new 1.2 GW unit at the Dukovany nuclear power plant worth €6 billion. The official reason was Russia’s alleged involvement in the ammunition depot explosions in the east of the republic in 2014. On the recommendation of Czech security services, Prague has already excluded a Chinese corporation from the tender, leaving Westinghouse of the U.S., France’s EDF, and South Korea’s KHNP as the bidders.
Meanwhile, the Dukovany nuclear power plant urgently needs new nuclear reactors to replace its rapidly ageing four VVER-440 units manufactured back in the Soviet era. Technologically, replacing the Soviet units with Russian ones would be the best solution. But the Czech Republic is not going to do it out of spite.
Zyuganov said that when he studied at the CPSU Central Committee Academy of Social Sciences in the late 1970s, he knew some students from Czechoslovakia who were "very nice and intelligent guys.” At the moment, the Czech Republic is run by toadies who are making such decisions at the behest of Joe Biden and NATO, he said.
Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, also believes that the United States is behind the expulsion of the Russian diplomats from the Czech Republic. According to her, Prague’s accusations against Moscow "were put together in haste, and all kinds of myths and fakes were used to divert attention from the domestic situation.” Zakharova said that putting the ubiquitous Petrov and Boshirov on the wanted list was a “win-win trump card” for Prague.
Just a short while ago, Russian-Czech relations seemed to be rising to a new level as the two countries reached a preliminary agreement on large supplies of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V to the Czech Republic. Of course, the West was unhappy that a EU member would prefer the Russian vaccine to the notorious Pfizer. So, the overseas partners suggested that the Czech leaders remember the 7-year old incident and the elusive Petrov and Boshirov. And that's exactly what the Czech authorities did.
The above-mentioned Jan Hamáček tweeted that his cancelled trip to Moscow to negotiate the purchase of the Sputnik V vaccine was part of an anti-Russian operation. According to him, Czech security forces "have achieved phenomenal success," thanks to which the country will be able to "significantly weaken the hostile activities of Russian agents." He underlined the "scope and uniqueness" of the operation "in general and in cooperation with NATO and the EU," which had to be carried out with "caution."
As for the Vrbetica ammunition depot blasts in 2014, Hamáček said that they were not supposed to happen in the Czech territory. According to him, "police are exploring the lead” that the munitions had to explode after their delivery to Bulgaria. It seems that Hamáček’s mentors from Western countries decided to expand the conflict by involving another country. Well, Jan Hamáček as a stooge of the Western leaders is currently being surprisingly active in the fight against "aggressive Russia."
The Czech municipal authorities are sparing no effort in their eagerness to please the United States. For example, the Prague city council urged the Czech government to negotiate the return of the Russian embassy premises within the boundaries that had existed before the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact troops in August 1968. It means that the Russian Embassy has to vacate 0.5 hectare of land. The city authorities are going to arrange flower beds and plant trees on that plot, as it had been before August 1968 when a Soviet military unit camped there.
In response to statements by the Czech authorities on "returning" the land of the Russian Embassy in Prague, the Russian Foreign Ministry reminded about the property of the Czech Embassy in Tverskaya Street in Moscow.
"If Prague with its extremely active district headmen decides to resort to other 'tools,' it should be recalled that the Czech side also has remarkable real estate in the Tverskaya Street area of the Russian capital," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
"The current leadership of the Czech Republic is a disgrace to both its country and people," Zyuganov said. "As for our country's reaction, it was absolutely justified. The decision to expel 20 Czech diplomats was reasonable.” According to him, Russia’s response must always be clear and adequate, because the modern world only respects the strong, smart, and successful.