MOSCOW, April 19. /TASS/. Acting Czech Foreign Minister Jan Hamacek was planning to travel to Moscow early this week to discuss the issue of purchasing a batch of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, however, this attempt was thwarted under the US pressure, Speaker of the Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) Vyacheslav Volodin told reporters.
"Last week, we had a request to receive our colleague, Deputy Prime Minister and acting Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic Jan Hamacek. The meeting with him was scheduled for April 20," the speaker noted.
According to him, the Czech official was supposed to fly to Moscow to discuss Sputnik V supplies to the country. However, Volodin added, he cancelled the trip to Russia at the last moment.
Commenting on the Czech Republic’s decision to expel Russian diplomats and accusations that Russian intelligence services were involved in the deadly blast at a munitions site near the village of Vrbetice on October 16, 2014. Volodin noted that everything that had happened "can be viewed as pressure by the US." "These actions are aimed at foiling dialogue between Russia and European states under invented pretexts and stories from time long gone," he emphasized.
On April 17, Prime Minister Andrej Babis and Hamacek announced the expulsion of 18 employees of the Russian embassy in Prague, who allegedly served as "officers of Russian intelligence services." The move came over the ‘newly-revealed’ allegations about the 2014 blast at the ammunition depot in the village of Vrbetice. In response, Russia declared 20 staff members of the Czech Embassy in Moscow personae non gratae.
Spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova blasted Prague’s actions as caricature-like and said that the Czech statements were meant to shut off reports that Russian and Belarusian security services uncovered a coup plot in Minsk in the Western information space. At the same time, Hamacek’s remarks that Prague will not share information about the incident confirm that it is a fake, the Russian diplomat underlined later.