The Czech Foreign Ministry said that Russia’s response to the expulsion of 18 diplomats from the country was stronger than expected. This was announced on Monday, April 19, by the First Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister of the Czech Republic Jan Hamacek, who also temporarily acts as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the republic.
“The reaction from the Russian side turned out to be stronger than we expected. More diplomats were sent out, ”he noted. His words are quoted by the portal Irozhlas.
As specified, Prague will consider further actions on this issue. Hamacek will voice them to Czech Prime Minister Andrei Babis later.
The statesman stressed that the country must necessarily respond to the expulsion of the deputy ambassador of the Czech Republic from the Russian Federation. Nevertheless, according to him, it is not planned to expel the Russian ambassador from the country yet.
As explained by Gamachek, the Russian special flight will pick up the deported employees of the Russian embassy and their family members on April 19. On the same day, Czech diplomats from Moscow will arrive in Prague on a special Air Force flight.
In conclusion, the Deputy Prime Minister allowed the expulsion of other employees of the “Russian special services” who are allegedly connected with operations in the Czech Republic and other EU states.
On April 17, it became known that the Czech Republic was expelling 18 Russian diplomats. According to Gamachek, the diplomats were “identified” by the special services as officers of the GRU and SVR. He specified that Russian diplomats must leave the country within 48 hours.
In response, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that Russia had declared 20 employees of the Czech Embassy in the Russian Federation persona non grata.
In addition, the Kremlin said that the conclusions of the Czech side about the alleged involvement of Russian special services in the explosion in 2014 at an ammunition depot in the Czech Republic are provocative. According to the press secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov, Moscow rejects such conclusions.
Later it became known that the Prague authorities demanded that Russia return part of the Stromovka city park, on the territory of which the Russian embassy is located. It is indicated that during the invasion of the country by the troops of the Warsaw Pact, the soldiers occupied the park, where they set up a camp and used it as a base. It is also noted that the area of the USSR embassy was increased by part of Stromovka, but nothing has changed with the withdrawal of Soviet troops from the republic in the 90s.