Czechia requests Russia pay for deadly explosion in Vrbětice

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Deputy Foreign Minister Martin Smolek handed over a diplomatic note to Russian Ambassador Aleksandr Zmeyevsky demanding full compensation for the damage caused by the explosion in Vrbětice. It is estimated at 650 million korunas (€25.57 million). Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called the Czech request blackmail.

At the same time, Smolek told the Russian ambassador that the inclusion of the Czech Republic on the list of “hostile” states was a violation of international law, including the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the Agreement on Friendly Relations and Cooperation.

“Usually, those who behave like this and without court and evidence, but with the help of threats and insults, demand money, are called blackmailers,” wrote Zakharova.

“It is impossible to understand what is happening in the minds of Czech politicians, who have been thinking for months about ways to further worsen bilateral relations. They caused the placement on the list of hostile countries themselves. And with each new wild statement and action, they confirm their status,” Zacharova added on her Telegram account.

The diplomatic rift with Russia started when the Czech intelligence agencies and investigators announced that Russian intelligence agents were involved in the explosions in Czech ammunition depots in 2014. In April, Czechia decided to expel 18 of Russia’s embassy staff, calling them Russian intelligence officers. Moscow responded by expelling 20 Czech diplomats and embassy staff from the Russian capital. Currently, there is a “strict parity” in the number of embassy staff in both countries.

A few days ago, a group of deputies led by the minister of the interior, Jan Hamáček, submitted a bill to the Chamber of Deputies concerning compensation for the Zlín region, municipalities, and residents for restrictions following the explosion.

The money for municipalities and the Zlín region would help cover repairing roads damaged by the ammunition removal. Furthermore, it would support the region’s development, non-profit organizations and associations, and the like.

The amounts for municipalities would be distributed according to the distance from the risk perimeter. Each inhabitant, including children with permanent residence in the five nearest villages, would be entitled to a specific amount.

Title image: In this Wednesday, April 21, 2021 photo, Russia’s ambassador to Prague, Aleksandr Zmeyevsky leaves the Foreign Ministry in Prague, Czech Republic. The Czech Foreign Ministry has summoned Russia’s ambassador to Prague to request a full compensation for damages caused by a huge ammunition depot explosion allegedly caused by Russian spies. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek, file)

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