PRAGUE, April 17. /TASS/. The Czech Republic is expelling 18 employees of the Russian embassy, who are Russian intelligence officers in the Czech special services’ version, First Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Jan Hamacek, who is also Acting Foreign Minister, said at news conference on Saturday.
"As the Czech foreign minister, I decided to expel all the employees of the Russian embassy in Prague who have been clearly identified by our special services as officers of the Russian intelligence agencies SVR and GRU. Within 48 hours, 18 staff members of the Russian embassy must leave the Czech Republic," he said.
The deputy prime minister said with regret that the step would deliver a hard blow to Russian-Czech relations, but the republic, in his version, was forced to do it.
"We are in the same situation as the UK was after the poisoning attempt [of the Skripals] in Salisbury in 2018. By 19.00 (20.00 Moscow time - TASS), I summoned the Russian ambassador [to the Czech Republic Alexander] Zmeyevsky and informed him about it," Hamacek said.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis also attended the news conference. He said that the national intelligence services had pointed to the Russian military intelligence agency’s (GRU) involvement in the explosion at an ammunition depot in the village of Vrbetice, outside the city of Zlin in the east of the country, in 2014.
"There is well-grounded suspicion about the involvement of officers of the Russian intelligence service GRU, unit 29155, in the explosion of ammunitions depot in the Vrbetice area," Babis said.