Czech Republic: President Zeman Denounces Anti Russian “Hysteria”
Tensions between the Czech Republic and Russia rapidly escalated after the Czech government suddenly accused two Russian agents of being behind the destruction of an ammo depot in the village of Vrbetice that took place… over six years ago! Prague then proceeded to expel 18 Russian diplomats, to which Moscow responded by expelling 20 Czech diplomats, prompting NATO countries, including the Biden Administration, to express “solidarity” with the Czechs. Other sanctions have been threatened on both sides.
Czech President Milos Zeman, however, as well his predecessor Vaclav Klaus, have moved to calm the situation. On April 25, after one week of silence to allow for further analysis, President Zeman declared in an emergency address to the nation: “I can state that the report of the Security Information Service says and I underline this –that there is neither proof nor evidence [of eyewitnesses] that these two agents were at the [ammo depot] in Vrbetice. When the premises of the second depot were examined right before the explosion there, no explosive device was found there,”
Pointing to the out-of-the-blue nature of the Czech government charges, Zeman added that the “Security Information Service had never before mentioned the incident in Vrbetice over the past six years.” While not denying any Russian implication, he called for a thorough investigation of the matter. He also did not rule out that there had been some sort of “game” among special services.
Earlier, on April 22, following a personal meeting with President Zeman, Vaclav Klaus had also cautioned the Czech government against leveling wild accusations at Russia to please the West. “That we, [the Czech Republic] are barking at one of the world powers, makes me feel ashamed and dismayed and extinguishes any desire to try to do anything in this country,” he told the Blesk daily. “Here, we look very much like a tiny pooch. We are barking at Russia, because we think that the US and NATO are ready to throw their weight behind us. I find this policy somewhat foolish.”