Prague, April 18 | The Czech Republic is expelling 18 employees of the Russian embassy in Prague, who were allegedly “identified as members of the Russian secret services”, Foreign Minister Jan Hamacek said at news conference.
“As the Czech Foreign Minister, I decided to expel all the employees of the Russian embassy in Prague who have been clearly identified by our special services as officers of the Russian intelligence agencies SVR and GRU. Within 48 hours, 18 staff members of the Russian embassy must leave the Czech Republic,” he said on Saturday.
According to local media reports, the move comes in response to evidence obtained by the country’s security services which suggests Russia’s involvement in two ammunition depot explosions in 2014 in the Czech Republic which killed two people.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Andrej Babis said in the same news conference that “there is well-grounded suspicion about the involvement of officers of the Russian intelligence service GRU, unit 29155, in the explosion of ammunitions depot in the Vrbetice area”.
In response to the Czech decision, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that “Prague is well aware what follows such ‘tricks'”.
Saturday’s development came a day after Hamacek, who is also the Interior Minister, cancelled his working visit to Moscow scheduled for April 19, TASS News Agency reported.
He wrote on Twitter that his decision had been prompted by the need to attend a Czech government meeting on April 19.