PRAGUE, April 19. /TASS/. Moscow’s reaction to the expulsion of 18 diplomats from the Czech Republic was stronger than expected considering the existing practice in such cases, so Prague will analyze potential future steps in that regard, Czech Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Jan Hamacek who is also the acting foreign minister told journalists on Monday.
"The reaction of the Russian side [to the expulsion of diplomats] was harsher than we expected. More [Czech] diplomats were expelled (20 - TASS)," he noted. "I put together a proposal for Prime Minister [of the Czech Republic Andrej] Babis on our further actions. First of all, I will inform him about it [and not the public]," the official said.
The high-ranking official made this statement after addressing a meeting of EU foreign ministers via videoconference. He informed his colleagues about the developments unfolding in "the Vrbetice case." In 2014, a blast rocked an ammunition depot in this populated locality which, according to Czech authorities, allegedly involved officers of Russia’s military intelligence. "I asked our allies to display solidarity with us. I expect that as early as today we will see their expression of support of our actions [regarding Russia]. The Czech Republic fell victim to the operations of Russia’s intelligence agencies," he asserted.
On April 17, Babis and Hamacek announced the expulsion of 18 employees of the Russian Embassy in Prague, who were allegedly "officers of Russian intelligence services." The move came over the newly-leveled allegations about the 2014 blast at the ammunition depot in the village of Vrbetice. In response, Russia declared 20 employees of the Czech Embassy in Moscow personae non gratae.