MOSCOW, April 22. /TASS/. The Czech Republic prefers to stage a performance instead of trying to normalize diplomatic work, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on the Govorit Moskva radio station on Thursday.
"On the Czech side there is no task of normalizing work and making it adequate. They are after staging a performance and this is precisely what they are doing," Zakharova said in response to the Czech side’s statements on the need for parity in the number of embassy personnel in Moscow and Prague.
Zakharova said Russia and the Czech Republic had very different systems of staffing their diplomatic offices abroad.
"Many countries, and not only Western ones, hire locals. In this way they select embassy staff. We do not have such a practice. Only career diplomats are sent to work as embassy staffers. The administrative and support personnel is sent from our country, too."
Zakharova said that an overwhelming majority of Czech embassy and consulate general’s office staffers in Russia were Russians.
Russia will retaliate proportionately, if the Czech Republic pursues its confrontational policy in relations with Moscow, Maria Zakharova said. "If there is the wish to resolve the problem, it can and must be resolved. If Prague continues along the road of confrontation, there will follow a proportionate response to the actions in question. Prague knows this well enough," Zakharova said.
She refrained from speculating about a negative scenario. "We find it unnecessary to model such things, let alone in the public space. We keep working," Zakharova said. "Our personnel worked there precisely the way Czech diplomatic service staffers worked here. They saw no obstructions to their activities. Prague has neglected the professional work of its employees and put them in a situation where the Czech government used them as a bargaining chip."
On April 17, the Czech authorities declared the expulsion of 18 Russian embassy personnel, suspected of being Russian secret service officers. The move was taken in connection with allegedly newly-discovered evidence of the 2014 explosions at ammunition warehouses in Vrbetitsa (in the east of the country).
The Russian Foreign Ministry expressed a resolute protest to Prague over this move, taken "on a groundless and far-fetched pretext" and declared 20 staffers of the Czech embassy in Moscow as personae non gratae. Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhanek lodged a protest with Russia’s ambassador to the Czech Republic Alexander Zmeyevsky and demanded the return of all Czech diplomats to their positions at the embassy. Kulhanek said Prague expected Moscow to make a decision by 13:00 Moscow time.