Police detained five people who reported to the Czechoslovak Soldiers in Reserve for Peace association. The detainees were to recruit volunteers to fight in the ranks of Russian separatists in the Czech Republic and prepare their departure for the Ukrainian Donbas. None of them have been charged yet.
The police have already announced that the case is not related to alleged Russian activities in the ammunition depots in Vrbětice.
“The criminal proceedings carried out by the NCOZ (National Centre for Organized Crime) are not related to the case regarding explosions in Vrbětice,” the police wrote on Twitter.
Police officers from the National Center for Organized Crime intervened throughout the country from Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. Some of the detainees allegedly went to Ukraine and joined the fighting on the side of the pro-Russian separatists, while others only supported them from the Czech Republic, reported the Deník N daily.
The media stated that hundreds of police officers took part in the intervention. Authorities suspect that the trips to Ukraine were encouraged by GRU officers from Russia’s embassy in Prague, who have already been expelled by Czechia.
According to information by the iROZHLAS.cz news outlet, one of the members of the Czechoslovak Soldiers in Reserve for Peace association was in Donbas in the past, where took part in the fighting on the side of the separatists. After returning, the association began to raise money so that other people could travel to the conflict zone.
In the past, Czech courts have dealt with several cases related to the conflict in Ukraine. The Czech Republic does not recognize the self-proclaimed republics of pro-Russian separatists and insists that the territories controlled by them, as well as Russian-annexed Crimea, are all an integral part of Ukraine.
The conflict in Ukraine erupted in 2014 after the overthrow of the government of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych and the subsequent Russian annexation of Crimea. Fighting between rebels and troops loyal to the government started in early April, claiming more than 14,000 lives since then.
Title image: Russian-backed separatists wait for their transport, preparing to leave towards the frontline, in the village of Vergulivka, just outside Debaltseve, eastern Ukraine, on Friday, Feb. 13, 2015. Fierce fighting surged Friday in eastern Ukraine as Russian-backed separatists mounted a major, sustained offensive to capture a strategic railway hub ahead of a weekend cease-fire deadline. At least 25 people were killed across the region, officials reported. (AP Photo/Maximilian Clarke)