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Prague free to follow own foreign course, says lawmaker chiding 'rude' US envoy

April 06, 2015, 15:40 UTC+3 MOSCOW

A Russian lawmaker commented on Czech President Milos Zeman’s decision to join forthcoming World War Two commemorations in Moscow

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MOSCOW, April 6. /TASS/. A senior lawmaker from Russia's parliamentary upper house said on Monday that Washington had underestimated the ability of the Czech Republic to pursue an independent foreign policy.

Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the Federation Council’s Foreign Affairs committee, was commenting on Czech President Milos Zeman’s decision to join forthcoming World War Two commemorations in Moscow.

President Zeman said on Sunday he had "closed the door" of Prague Castle, the official residence of the Czech president, to US ambassador Andrew Schapiro after critical remarks he made of planned Czech participation in May celebrations marking 70 years since Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two.

"I can’t imagine the Czech ambassador in Washington giving advice to the American president where to travel," Zeman told parliamentary electronic publication

"I won’t let any ambassador have a say about my foreign travels," he said, adding that "Ambassador Schapiro has the door to the castle closed."

Schapiro told Czech television last week that it would be "awkward" if the Czech president was the only statesman from an EU country present at ceremonies in Russia's capital, noting that this would discredit the West’s position on Ukraine.

The US ambassador’s "rude reminder that it was time to stop playing sovereignty games seemingly aimed to show that Washington would not accept any new ‘Prague Spring’," Russian lawmaker Kosachev said, referring to the period of political liberalization and openness to the rest of Europe experienced by the former Czechoslovakia in the late 1960s.

"Washington made a mistake," he added.

The European Union and the United States have subjected Russia to economic sanctions as punishment over events in eastern Ukraine. Besides, a number of European Union leaders have refused to attend this year’s Victory Day parade in Moscow's Red Square on May 9.

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