Czech demands for restitution over explosions of ammo depots there in 2014 are “extortion,” the Russian foreign ministry has said. Earlier this year, Prague accused Moscow of being behind an operation to destroy Czech weapons.
Writing on Telegram, spokeswoman Maria Zakharova denounced Prague for seeking 25.5 million euros ($30 million), the sum reported by Czech media.
“It is impossible to understand what goes on in the minds of these Czech politicians who have been thinking for months about how to make bilateral relations even worse,” Zakharova wrote.
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“Usually, those who act in this way – without a trial, and demand money with threats and insults – are called extortionists,” she said.
Prague’s demand comes after Czech intelligence accused Russia’s GU, the country’s foreign military intelligence agency, of having blown up warehouses storing weapons. The accusation, which came in April, led to expulsions from both the Russian Embassy in Prague and the Czech embassy in Moscow.
In October and December 2014, explosions occurred at arms depots in Vrbetice, killing two people. Accusations from Prague suggest that the depots had been holding ammunition due to be sent to Ukraine through Emilian Gebrev, a Bulgarian arms dealer. In an attempt to halt the sale of weapons to Kiev, intelligence operatives from Russia were sent to destroy them, the Czech authorities claim.
The Kremlin has denied all accusations of Moscow involvement, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov calling them “inflammatory and unfriendly.” At the time, Zakharova attacked Prague for negligence, saying that the Czechs had simply failed to regulate “private arms companies” and so pinned the blame on Russia.
Following the accusation from Prague, Czechia was placed on Russia’s list of ‘unfriendly countries,’ alongside the US. According to Zakharova, the new demand for money confirms that Moscow was correct in placing them on the list.
“They have included themselves in the list of unfriendly countries. And with each new wild statement and action they confirm their status,” she said.
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