Czech authorities expel 18 Russian diplomats

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Hamacek said the country will expel 18 Russian diplomats. Also, the Czech police put on the wanted list alleged GRU officers Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, according to the Czech Novinky newspaper.

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Hamacek.

The minister says the Czech Republic “has reasonable suspicions” that Russian special services were involved in the 2014 explosions of ammunition depots in Vrbětice. The country decided to expel those identified as employees of the Russian secret services of the Main Intelligence Directorate and the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service.

The diplomats were given 48 hours to leave the Czech Republic. Czech authorities have already notified the Russian ambassador and are discussing the situation with foreign partners.

“Yes, the Czech side has notified us. The ambassadorhas been summoned today to the Czech Foreign Ministry,” Interfax reported, citing the Russian embassy in Prague.

The Czech police also put the alleged GRU officers Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov on the wanted list because of the “investigation of the circumstances of a grave crime.” According to Czech authorities, they came to Prague in October 2014. They are also suspected by British authorities of poisoning former GRU employee Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury in 2018.

Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov.

The explosion at an ammunition depot in the village of Vrbětice, about 330 kilometers from Prague, occurred in 2014: one depot exploded in October and another in December. The first explosion killed two people.