Russia announced “persona non grata” for 20 employees of the Czech embassy. The corresponding note was handed over to the ambassador of this country to the Russian Federation Vitezslav Pivonka, the press service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation reports.
Czech diplomats must leave Russian territory by the end of the day on April 19. At the same time, the Czech side was required to bring the number of employees of the diplomatic mission “in the category of those admitted on the spot to parity with the number of employees of a similar category of the Russian Embassy in the Czech Republic.”
“The ambassador has been declared a strong protest in connection with the unfriendly act of the Czech authorities against the personnel of the Russian diplomatic mission in Prague,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
As the head of the international department of the presidential administration of the Czech Republic, Rudolf Jindrak specified, almost the entire political department of the Czech embassy will leave Russia. According to him, after the expulsion of the diplomats, five employees will remain there.
Yindrak lamented that the Russian side gave diplomats only a day to collect, and also expressed bewilderment why Moscow is sending two more employees than Prague – Russians.
Earlier, the Czech Republic announced the expulsion of 18 Russian diplomats. This came after the Prime Minister of the country’s government, Andrei Babis, announced that authorities suspected Russian military intelligence (GRU) of involvement in an explosion at an ammunition depot in Vrbetica in 2014. According to local media outlets, the incident was supposed to prevent the supply of ammunition to Ukraine.
In addition, the Czech police put on the wanted list the Russians Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, who in the UK are believed to be involved in the poisoning of the former British spy in Russia Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said that the decision to expel the employees of the Russian embassy was made “under unfounded and far-fetched pretexts” and that “one cannot but see an American trace in the actions of Prague”.