Czech Republic to Expel Russian Diplomats Suspected of Working for Russian Intelligence

Czech police hunt two men with names matching Skripal suspects

Czech police hunt two men with names matching Skripal suspects

Czech police issued photos of Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, who they say were in the country at the time of the blast, which killed two people.

Prime Minister Andrej Babis said on Saturday the Czech intelligence agencies had provided evidence about the involvement of Russian military agents in the massive explosion that killed two people.

The Czech Republic has expelled 18 Russian diplomats in retaliation.

The Czech Republic will expel 18 Russian diplomats from the country over suspected Russian involvement in two 2014 warehouse explosions that resulted in two deaths and large-scale evacuations.

"There is well-grounded suspicion about the involvement of officers of the Russian intelligence service GRU, unit 29155, in the explosion of ammunitions depot in the Vrbetice area", Babis said.

Czech Industry Minister Karel Havlicek, meanwhile, told Reuters that the row with Moscow could influence a decision on whether Russian Federation is invited to bid on building a new unit at the Dukovany nuclear power plant.

"Eighteen employees of the Russian embassy must leave our republic within 48 hours", Hamacek told reporters.

He added he had received the information on Friday, without explaining why it had taken so long.

"The two men were present on Czech territory in".

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The US proposal for a first meeting between the presidents this summer has been welcomed - but not yet accepted - by the Kremlin. The statement said "no known Canadian entities have been exploited to date", but investigations are ongoing.

Members of the National Centre against Organised Crime of the Criminal Police and Investigation Service (NCOZ) published mugshots of the two suspects who are accused of operating in the country between October 11, 2014 and October 16, 2014.

Two Russian men suspected of carrying out the Salisbury poisoning of Sergei Skripal in 2018 are being linked to an explosion at an arms depot in the Czech Republic four years earlier.

Hamacek said the the case will significantly harm Czech-Russian relations.

Babis said the expulsion of 18 diplomats had the full support of President Milos Zeman, a veteran leftwinger who has fostered close ties with both Moscow and Beijing.

Hamacek said 18 Russian embassy staff identified as secret service personnel would be ordered to leave the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation country within 48 hours.

He said he had summoned Russian ambassador Alexander Zmeyevsky to convey the decision.

A senior Russian parliamentarian on Saturday called the claim absurd. "We're in a similar situation to Britain in the attempted poisoning case in Salisbury", added Hamacek.

Warsaw also expressed solidarity with the United States, which earlier that day had announced sanctions and the expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats in retaliation for what Washington said was the Kremlin's USA election interference, a massive cyber attack and other hostile activity.

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