The Czech police know the identities of two men who are believed to be involved in the explosions at an ammunition depot in the village of Vrbetice in the east of the country. This was announced on Sunday, April 18, by the First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic Jan Hamacek, speaking on the Czech Television channel.
On October 16, 2014, 50 tons of ammunition exploded in Vrbetica. Their fragments were scattered within a radius of 800 m from the place where the warehouse building was located. Two employees of the local company Imex Group, which rented a warehouse from the state-owned Military Technical Institute, were killed. All the villagers were evacuated on an urgent basis.
“The two men whom the police associate with the explosions at the end of 2014 in a warehouse in Vrbetica were known from the very beginning, with the help of a video camera. The fact that we are talking about employees of the General Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Federation became clear in 2018, when their identities were determined in connection with an attempt to poison Sergei Skripal and his daughter with the nerve agent Novichok, said the Deputy Prime Minister.
Hamachek also explained the details of the alleged special operation to export weapons to Bulgaria.
“We can say that something happened that was not planned,” he said of the explosion.
The politician pointed out that the Czech authorities were investigating the incident in close cooperation with foreign partners.
The intention of the republic’s authorities to declassify the report on the investigation of the explosions in Vrbetica was announced yesterday by the Prime Minister of the country Andrei Babiš. According to the prime minister, it provides evidence of the involvement of agents of the Russian special services in the incident.
On April 17, the Czech Republic announced that it was expelling 18 Russian diplomats. The country’s authorities explained their decision by the fact that they were allegedly identified as employees of the Russian special services. However, no evidence of this was presented.
The Russian Foreign Ministry the next day expressed a strong protest to the Czech Republic and promised to take retaliatory steps.
In turn, Dmitry Novikov, First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs, noted that there are no grounds for expelling diplomats from the Czech Republic. In his opinion, the expulsion of diplomats in the EU countries resembles a “race for loyalty to Washington.”
The situation with Russian diplomats was preceded by new US sanctions against the Russian Federation, the decree on the introduction of which was signed on April 15 by the President of the United States Joe Biden.