Diplomatic Briefing

Your exclusive news aggregator handpicked daily!

Archive for Czech Republic

Newsline: Russian diplomat detained in Czech Republic on ammunition charges

A Russian diplomat was detained by the Czech police for illegally buying ammunition, the Czech Radio reported. (https://tass.com/world/1189651) The diplomat was detained in the town of Ricany near Prague. Police claim that he was illegally purchasing bullets for a sniper rifle and other ammunition. Due to the fact that he had diplomatic immunity, the diplomat was released. According to the radio, the detained person was employed at the department of the Russian Embassy’s military attache. Soon after the incident, the diplomat left the Czech Republic. TASS has not received a comment from the Russian Embassy in the Czech Republic so far.

Newsline: In Diplomatic Tit-For-Tat, Moscow Expels Two Czech Diplomats

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has declared two Czech diplomats personae non gratae in retaliation to a similar move by Prague several days ago. The ministry said in a June 15 statement that the Czech ambassador to Russia, Vitezslav Pivonka, had been officially informed that the two Czech diplomats, whose identities were not disclosed, had been ordered to leave Russia along with their family members in two days. “The ambassador was told that the move is a mirror response to the provocative action by a Prague official, which was undertaken without any grounds,” the ministry’s statement says. (https://www.rferl.org/a/moscow-summons-czech-ambassador-after-prague-expels-two-russian-diplomats/30671468.html) On June 5, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said that his government had decided to expel the two staffers as a result of the so-called ricin affair, which he said turned out to be a fake incident sparked by an “internal struggle” between embassy staff. The Russian Embassy called the expulsions an “unfriendly step” that showed Prague is not interested in normalizing already tense relations between the two countries. The affair stems from Czech media reports that Andrei Konchakov, deputy director of the embassy’s Russian Center for Science and Culture, brought ricin from Russia to Prague in mid-March that was meant to be used in a plot to poison Prague Mayor Zdenek Hrib and two other senior municipal officials, Ondrej Kolar and Pavel Novotny. Moscow at the time denied the reports as “fabrications.” The scandal broke out on April 26 when Respekt, a Czech investigative weekly, published a report quoting unnamed security sources as saying that a suspected Russian intelligence officer traveling on a diplomatic passport had arrived recently in Prague carrying the deadly toxin as part of an alleged poisoning plot. Czech media last month identified the suspected Russian intelligence operative as Konchakov.

Newsline: Czech Republic expels two Russian diplomats

The Czech Republic expelled two Russian diplomats over fabricated information on an alleged poisoning plot, bringing relations between the NATO member and its former Soviet-era master to a new low. The expulsions are the culmination of increasingly thorny diplomatic relations between Prague and Moscow. They worsened in April after media reported that several city leaders could be the target of Russian assassination attempts by poisoning. Russia rejected the allegations as absurd. On Friday, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said a staff member at Russia’s embassy in Prague had made up the story about the planned attack as part of a conflict inside the mission and delivered it to Czech intelligence services. (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-06-05/czechs-say-russian-diplomat-made-up-false-poisoning-plot-intel) By doing so, the diplomat further complicated Czech-Russian relations and damaged the reputation of the Russian Federation in the Czech Republic, Babis said. “Of course, we’re interested in good relations with all countries, but we’re a sovereign state and such actions on our soil are unacceptable,” he said in a televised briefing. Russia quickly denounced the Czech move and called it a “fabricated provocation” to which it will retaliate in a proportionate manner. “This hostile step, which was from the beginning based on unfounded media accusations, is evidence that Prague isn’t interested in normalizing Russian-Czech relations,” the embassy said on its website.

Newsline: Czech embassies and consulates abroad have resumed accepting visa applications

Czech diplomatic offices in 20 countries have resumed accepting applications for visas and temporary stays, which may be granted for work or family reunification at 28 Czech embassies and consulates around the world, the Foreign Ministry said today. Now, people can ask for visas and temporary stays at Czech diplomatic offices in China, Vietnam, the USA, Serbia and Australia, for example, but not yet in Britain, Ukraine, Russia and Romania. (https://news.expats.cz/weekly-czech-news/czech-embassies-and-consulates-abroad-have-resumed-accepting-visa-applications/) The limitations are still valid in the countries whose measures adopted against COVID-19 do not allow the submission of applications at Czech diplomatic offices. People can only apply for visas and temporary stays, however, based on the purposes established by a Czech government decree issued on May 4. People seeking seasonal jobs, those in government programs for health and social care personnel, as well as scientists and workers of critical infrastructure, are eligible for the entry to the Czech Republic. Family reunification may also be a reason for a visa application if part of the family resides in the Czech Republic.

Newsline: Russia avoids ‘Boris Nemtsov Square’ address for its Prague embassy

The Russian embassy in Prague has said it will not take an address on Boris Nemtsov Square after the plaza in front of the building was renamed to honour the Russian opposition politician who was murdered in 2015. Czech media reported last week that the embassy had changed its official address in order to avoid the reference to Nemtsov, a critic of Vladimir Putin who was gunned down in sight of the Kremlin. In a pointed note, the Russian embassy accused the Czech foreign ministry of politicising a “technical” step to maintain the embassy’s official address as the one used by its consular division. Calling the street “historical” and “the probability of its renaming much lower than that of the recently appeared ‘Boris Nemtsov square’”, it wrote: “The embassy has decided to continue using 36 Korunovacni Street as its official address.” (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/20/russia-changes-address-embassy-boris-nemtsov-square-prague) Prague councillors voted to rename the square, previously called Under the Chestnuts, to mark the fifth anniversary of Nemtsov’s death, a symbolic step also taken in Washington, Kyiv and Vilnius.

Newsline: Czech Embassy In Moscow Attacked

Several masked individuals have attacked the Czech Embassy in Moscow after Prague authorities removed a statue of the Soviet military commander Ivan Konev. The attackers threw smoke bombs onto the embassy’s territory on April 5 and placed a banner saying Stop Fascism on the compound’s fence. A group called Other Russia that consists of members of the former National Bolshevik party that was banned in 2007 claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that it was “a response to the Czech authorities, who on Friday [April 3] removed the monument of the Marshall Ivan Konev in Prague.” “Our tanks will be in Prague!” the message said. The Czech Foreign Ministry condemned the attack, calling it an act of “vandalism” and the organization behind it “extremist.” (https://www.rferl.org/a/czech-embassy-in-moscow-attacked-after-prague-removes-soviet-commander-s-statue/30535440.html) “The Czech Republic protests an attack on the premises of the diplomatic mission which the host country is obliged to protect. The official note was sent today by the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Moscow to the Russian Foreign Ministry. We expect that the Russian authorities will take measures to prevent such incidents from reoccurring,” the statement made accessible to RFE/RL says.

Newsline: Czech prime minister says China’s ambassador should be replaced

China should replace its ambassador in the Czech Republic after the Chinese embassy sent a threatening letter to Czech authorities, Prime Minister Andrej Babis said, a position that may further strain relations between the two countries. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-czech/czech-prime-minister-says-chinas-ambassador-should-be-replaced-idUSKBN20W1EH) China’s embassy in Prague said in a letter sent to the Czech president’s office that Beijing would retaliate against Czech companies operating in China if a senior Czech lawmaker went ahead with a planned visit to Taiwan.

Newsline: Prague renames square in front of Russian embassy

When a group of politicians in Prague decided to honor the murdered Russian dissident Boris Nemtsov by naming a square after him, there was just one location they had in mind: The plaza in front of the Russian embassy. Prague City Council voted on Monday in favor of renaming what was known for decades as “Under the Chestnuts Square” to “Boris Nemtsov Square,” according to the city’s mayor, Zdeněk Hřib. (https://edition.cnn.com/2020/02/24/europe/boris-nemtsov-plaza-russian-embassy-prague-intl/index.html) The official renaming will take place on February 27, the fifth anniversary of the opposition leader’s killing. This will be the fourth Russian embassy to suddenly find itself based at or near an address commemorating Nemtsov, one of the most vocal critics of President Vladimir Putin. To mark the third anniversary of Nemtsov’s death, the section of Wisconsin Avenue in front of the Russian embassy in Washington was renamed “Boris Nemtsov Plaza,” much to the anger of the Russian government. A few months later, the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius followed with a similar move. Last year, a “Boris Nemtsov Park” popped up in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, near the Russian embassy there.

Newsline: Kim Jong Un’s Uncle Returns from Czech Republic After Quitting as Ambassador

Kim Jong Un’s uncle has returned to North Korea after quitting his job as the isolated nation’s ambassador to the Czech Republic, Yonhap News reported, citing lawmakers. Kim Pyong Il is the half-brother of the North Korean leader’s late father Kim Jong Il. Lawmakers were briefed on the move by the head of the National Intelligence Service, the news agency said. (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-12-01/kim-jong-un-s-uncle-returns-after-quitting-as-ambassador-yonhap) Pyong Il was once considered a potential successor of his brother, but he’s been distant from power since moving out of the country in 1988 to take an ambassador job in Hungary, the report said.

Newsline: Czech Republic to have embassy in Singapore

The Czech government approved the establishment of a new embassy in Singapore and diplomats will start work as of January 2020, local media reported. (http://www.china.org.cn/world/2019-08/27/content_75142165.htm) So far, Czech interests in Singapore have been represented by the embassy in Indonesia and there was a Czech honorary consul in Singapore. In January this year, Prime Minister Andrej Babis visited Singapore. Calling Singapore trade center of Southeast Asia, Babis said the Czech Republic needs to have a full-fledged representation in the country.