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Moscow bars Czech Embassy from hiring Russian nationals, says Foreign Ministry

The US Embassy won't be able to employ Russians either, the diplomat said
Czech Embassy in Russia EPA-EFE/YURI KOCHETKOV
Czech Embassy in Russia

MOSCOW, April 19. /TASS/. The Czech Embassy in Russia won’t be able to hire Russian nationals anymore, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Rossiya-1’s 60 Minute show on Monday.

"Both the United States and the Czech Republic can no longer hire our country’s citizens to work at their embassies," she pointed out.

According to Zakharova, the contracts that Russian citizens are offered at the US Embassy can be viewed as a form of spy recruitment. "The people who are said to be employed there under contract in fact start to work for their new country. And the status that they will receive in that country depends on how well they do their job," she explained.

Prague’s decision to expel 18 Russian diplomats will involve a total of 62 people, counting their family members, 28 of them are children, Maria Zakharova said.

"This is indeed an unprecedented story. They announced the expulsion of 18 Russian diplomats. Yet, this means that it’s not just 18, but rather 62 Russians that have to leave the Czech Republic, because there are family members. This includes 28 children," she clarified.

The diplomat emphasized that the Czech decision was made in the midst of the pandemic. She also reiterated the statements by Prague and Warsaw on inadmissibility of violations of the anti-epidemic restrictions by Russian diplomats. "It turns out that here it is possible to expel more than 60 people in a day or two. Can you imagine the arrangements required, even in Prague, to bring them back home? Nobody cares. This is such hypocrisy and, actually, this is so underhanded," the spokeswoman said.

On April 17, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis and Acting Foreign Minister Jan Hamacek announced the expulsion of 18 employees of the Russian Embassy in Prague, who, according to the Czech authorities, are "officers of Russia’s SVR and GRU intelligence agencies." The Czech Republic claimed that the so-called newly-discovered circumstances related to the Vrbetice explosion were the reason. The Russian Foreign Ministry protested against the move that Prague had taken "under false pretenses," and declared 20 employees of the Czech Embassy in Moscow personae non gratae.