MOSCOW, April 23. /TASS/. The Czech Republic is resorting to "a pathetic and disgraceful lies" to accuse Russia of being involved in the events that took place in the village of Vrbetice seven years ago, Director of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service Sergei Naryshkin said Friday.
"In their actions, [the Czech Republic] was hiding behind a pathetic and disgraceful lies possibly meant for people with an insufficient level of intellectual development," he stressed.
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.
On Thursday, Kulhanek said that the country was cutting down the number of Russian diplomats in the Russian Embassy in Prague to match that of the Czech Embassy in Moscow. In response, the Russian side conveyed the demand to reduce the number of staffers in the Czech diplomatic mission in Moscow to Czech Ambassador to Russia Vitezslav Pivonka who was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry and underlined that Moscow has the right to take more steps in case Prague continues to wage its anti-Russian campaign.