The Czech Republic made a decision to expel 18 diplomats of the Russian Embassy in Prague, who were identified as Russian intelligence officers.
The decision was announced by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, as well as Minister of the Interior and acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Jan Hamáček.
According to Hamáček, Russian Ambassador Zmeevsky was informed about the decision of the Czech side. Now 18 employees of the Russian diplomatic mission have to leave the country within 48 hours.
Babiš also said that the Czech security forces believed that members of the Russian secret services had been involved in the explosion of ammunition depots in Vrbětice. Police placed two men with Russian passports who were in Prague and Moravia in October 2014 on the wanted list.
It is noteworthy that these men (Chepiga and Mishkin) are also suspected of poisoning Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Great Britain. They were identified as officers of Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate.
According to police, the wanted persons used at least two identity cards: Russian passports in the names of Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov and later a passport of a citizen of Moldova in the name of Nikolai Pop and a passport of a citizen of Tajikistan Ruslan Tabarov.
The head of the Czech government stressed that the explosion at the ammunition depots caused enormous material damage and affected the lives of many locals. But the main thing is that two Czech citizens were killed in the explosion.
According to Czech media reports, the explosion of depots at the Vrbětice complex, organised by Russian agents, was most likely carried out to disrupt the supply of weapons, including those to Ukraine.
According to journalists, the depots and weapons did not belong to the Czech Ministry of Defence. They were used by a commercial company that prepared ammunition for export to Bulgaria.
The Irozhlas media outlet found out that the recipient was the company of Bulgarian arms dealer Emilian Gebrev, who was poisoned with the Novichok nerve agent twice in 2015. Bellingcat later proved that this was done by the same unit that attacked the Skripals.
According to media reports, Gebrev was one of the suppliers of military goods to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine and the National Guard, including during the active hostilities in Donbas.