Czech Republic expels two Russian embassy employees
The Czech Republic has declared two Russian embassy employees persona non grata, reports RFE/RL citing a statement from Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš.
Babiš noted that the decision to expel the two embassy staff members was linked to a recent scandal involving threats against several Czech politicians. However, he did not give the names of the expelled diplomats.
At the beginning of April, the Czech investigative weekly Respekt published reports of a Russian citizen arriving in the country on a diplomatic passport, with the intention of carrying out a poisoning plot.
The Czech intelligence services later claimed that this person planned to use the deadly toxin ricin to poison three Czech politicians critical of Russia: Prague Mayor, Zdeněk Hřib, the head of Prague’s sixth district, Ondřej Kolář, and the head of the Řeporyje district, Pavel Novotný. All three politicians were placed under protection.
Recent diplomatic tensions between Moscow and Prague seem to be driven by memory politics. Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib was one of the initiators involved in renaming the square in front of the Russian Embassy in Prague after assassinated opposition politician Boris Nemtsov. Meanwhile, under the leadership of Ondřej Kolář, Prague’s sixth district dismantled a monument to the Soviet general, Marshal Ivan Konev, provoking a criminal case from the Russian Investigative Committee.
The Řeporyje district has also faced backlash from Russia for its decision to erect a monument to the soldiers of the Russian Liberation Army (ROA), who fought on behalf of Nazi Germany in World War II.