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Kremlin slams situation involving Russian diplomats in Czech Republic as hysteria

Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhanek earlier said in an interview that the country might expel "about 60" Russian Embassy staff members from Prague in the heat of the conflict with Moscow
Russian Embassy in Prague EPA-EFE/MARTIN DIVISEK
Russian Embassy in Prague

MOSCOW, April 22. /TASS/. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov has blasted the recent crisis unfolding in the Czech Republic that involves Russian diplomats as hysteria, urging that "diplomats are given an opportunity to formulate positions."

"Our diplomats are working now. We, of course, view all this hysteria negatively. This is the only thing I can say. Let’s give diplomats an opportunity to formulate positions," he told reporters Thursday.

On April 17, Czech authorities 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 2014 Vrbetice explosion were the reason behind the move. The Russian Foreign Ministry protested the step that Prague had taken "under false pretenses," and declared 20 employees of the Czech Embassy in Moscow personae non gratae in response.

On Wednesday, the Czech Republic’s newly sworn-in Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhanek issued a protest to Russia’s envoy to the country Alexander Zmeyevsky over Moscow’s decision to expel 20 Czech diplomats and demanded that they all be returned back to continue working in the diplomatic mission. Prague will be waiting for Moscow’s response until 12:00 a.m. (13 a.m. Moscow time) on Thursday, the minister told reporters.