Czech, Russian to take the envoys and their families home amid depot explosion dispute

The two Russian military agents believed to be behind a massive Czech depot explosion in 2014 likely targeted the ammunition, not the Czech Republic itself, the country’s prime minister and prosecutor general said Monday.

Prime Minister Andrej Babis said he didn’t consider the Russian action “an act of state terrorism” but said “the presence of GRU agents is absolutely unacceptable.”

“We’re a sovereign state and it’s unacceptable for foreign agents to conduct such operations here,” Babis said.

On Sunday, Russia ordered 20 Czech diplomats to leave the country within a day in response to the Czech government’s expulsion of 18 Russian diplomats it identified as spies from the GRU and the SVR, Russia’s military and foreign intelligence services. Both sides sent government planes Monday to take the envoys and their families home.

Pavel Zeman, the Czech prosecutor general, said the ammunition targeted was mostly meant to be sent to an arms dealer in Bulgaria and be intentionally exploded after delivery. The 2014 depot blast in the town of Vrbetice killed two people.

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Source: Associated Press – KAREL JANICEK

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