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Czech Republic to seek compensation from Russia for 2014 explosions in Vrbetice

The Czech Republic plans to claim $47 million in compensation from Russia for the two fatal explosions at military ammunition depots in Vrbetice in 2014, Czech Finance Minister Alena Schillerová said during a television interview on May 9. 

According to the minister, Prague plans to seek compensation within the framework of international law, because criminal proceedings would take too long to recover the damages. 

The Česká Televize television channel added that $47 million (equivalent to 1 billion Czech crowns) is just a preliminary estimate, which may be revised upwards after further assessment of the damage. The Czech authorities plan to prepare a compensation claim over the next few weeks. 

Czech lawmaker Ondřej Benešík said that while it will be difficult for the Czech Republic to obtain compensation from Russia, he believes Prague should initiate proceedings to show, at the very least, that “we will not tolerate this.”

In April, the Czech Republic expelled 18 Russian diplomats over the Kremlin’s alleged involvement in the Vrbetice arms depot explosions. Moscow responded by expelling 20 Czech diplomats. The Czech authorities then announced plans to limit the number of Russian Embassy staff in Prague to match the size of the Czech Embassy in Moscow (going forward both embassies will have 32 employees).

Slovakia and the Baltic states (Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia) also expelled Russian diplomats in solidarity with the Czech Republic. On May 8, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš called on the leaders of EU countries to eject at least one Russian diplomat in a show of solidarity over the Vrbetice bombing case.

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