The Czech government suspects that Russian intelligence officers were involved in an explosion at an ammunition depot in 2014. The Czech Republic is therefore expelling 18 Russian diplomats who, according to the Prague government, work for the Russian secret service.

The Russians have 48 hours to leave, Prime Minister Andrei Babis and Foreign Minister Jan Hamácek reported on Saturday.

“It is a well-founded suspicion about the involvement of senior officers of the Russian intelligence agency GRU, unit 29155, the explosion at the ammunition depot in the Vrbetice region,” said Babiš on the tv. In October 2014, two employees of a company that rented the army storage were killed. Two months later, another explosion occurred.

“The Czech Republic is a sovereign state and must respond appropriately to these unprecedented revelations,” the prime minister responded.

The first vice-chairman of the committee on international affairs of the Russian Senate, Vladimir Dzhabarov, called the Czech allegations absurd. He announced, according to Interfax news agency, that Russia will pay back with the same currency by expelling an equal number of Czechs, as usual on these issues. The news agency quotes a source saying that the Czech Republic has decided to close its embassy in Moscow.

Minister Hamácek had earlier in the day cancelled a controversial visit to Moscow scheduled for Monday. Among other things, he would talk about the delivery of Russian Sputnik coronavirus vaccines.
Also research into poisoning former spy Skripal

In the meantime, the Czech police announced that they were looking for two men who would have several passports with them, including the Russian names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov. They match those of two suspects linked to the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Julia.

Russia rejects any responsibility for that attack on British soil in March 2018 with poison gas Novichok developed in the Soviet Union.

Poland and the United States, among others, have been expelling Russian diplomats in recent days, followed by similar counter-measures by Moscow. The two countries took this step after cyber attacks that Moscow was alleged to be behind.

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