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Diplomat points to Prague’s negligence of Vrbetice depot when rented to private firm

The spokeswoman pointed out that there are no official results of the 2014 investigation
Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova Alexander Shcherbak/TASS
Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova
© Alexander Shcherbak/TASS

MOSCOW, April 20. /TASS/. The Czech government was negligent and did not maintain supervision over the arms depot in Vrbetice, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Tuesday on the Vesti FM radio station.

"In 2014, there were two explosions at the depots, then an investigation was launched, which revealed something fantastic here: the hetman (political military title in Central and Eastern Europe dating back to the 17th century - TASS) of the Zlin Region did not know that since 2006, the ammunition depot was not used by the army, and that the Czech Defense Ministry was renting the depot to private arms companies," she said. "Can you imagine, a massive amount of weapons in storage at those depots from 2006 to 2014, that means, eight years without any supervision by the Czech government."

"The Czech Bureau of Mines, which was supposed to conduct inspections of the explosives at the depot, was not aware of this either. The police, which are supposed to do this by law, did not conduct any inspections either. It was also discovered that all security norms were violated," Zakharova emphasized.

The spokeswoman pointed out that there are no official results of the 2014 investigation. "Not only was the Czech government unable to find those responsible, it was unable to find out what had happened. There are no official materials. Seven years have passed, two people lost their lives, a specific location exists, the owners of the depot exist, but was there a trial? No, there wasn’t a single one. The Czech prosecutor general said on April 19 that the investigators do not want to make more information about the explosions public, because they are still looking into the matter," the diplomat said.

In 2014, two blasts took place at ammunition depots rented by a company called Imex Group in the Czech village of Vrbetice. The company representative reported that there were machine guns and artillery shells stored at the site, ruling out the possibility of spontaneous combustion.

On April 18, the Czech government announced the expulsion of 18 employees of the Russian embassy in Prague, who were allegedly "officers of Russian intelligence services." The move came over Prague’s newly-leveled allegations about the 2014 Vrbetice blast. According to reports, "officers of Russia’s military intelligence" were allegedly involved in the said incident.