On Monday, the last group of expelled employees from the Russian embassy departed from Prague after an estimated 60 to 70 Russians boarded a Moscow-bound plane. Russian diplomats and employees were ordered to leave the Czech Republic over the Vrbětice case by the end of May.
As of Tuesday, only seven diplomats and 25 administrative and technical staff should work at the Russian Embassy in Prague. A total of 123 Russian citizens were forced to leave the country.
A Russian government special Ilyushin 96-300 arrived at Ruzyně Airport from Moscow on Monday afternoon. After about an hour and a half, one larger bus and one minibus arrived at the airport with the expelled Russians and their families. It was estimated that there were about 60 to 70 people who boarded the plane.
Departure was originally scheduled for 4:00 p.m., but at this time only the arrival of passengers began. The plane took off about 40 minutes later. Its destination was Moscow Vnukovo Airport.
The Czech Republic decided to reduce the occupation of the Russian embassy in Prague in April after a diplomatic rift with Russia due to an explosion at an ammunition depot in Vrbětice. The dispute between the Czech Republic and Russia is the result of the findings of Czech investigators that Russian intelligence agents were involved in the explosions of ammunition depots in Vrbětice in the Zlín region in 2014.
In April, Czechia decided to expel 18 employees of the embassy, which it described as officers of the Russian intelligence services Moscow responded by expelling 20 diplomats or employees of the Czech embassy in the Russian capital.
After that, the Czech Republic decided to expel other workers by the end of May. In response, Moscow announced that it was switching to “strict parity” in the number of embassy staff.
As for the Czech representation in Russia, as of May 21, 71 employees from the embassy in Moscow, the Czech House, and the Czech Center Moscow had been fired. Czechia received an offer of assistance from several countries in connection with the running of the embassy and this matter is still being discussed.
Title image: A young girl is seen in a window as Czech diplomats and their families arrive at the Vaclav Havel airport in Prague, Czech Republic, Monday, April 19, 2021. Russia has ordered 20 Czech diplomats to leave the country within a day in response to Prague’s expulsion of 18 Russian diplomats. The Czech government has alleged the Russian Embassy staffers were spies for a military intelligence agency that was involved in a fatal ammunition depot explosion in 2014. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)