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'Acting like a tiny pooch': Czech ex-president ashamed of Prague’s policies towards Russia

Vaclav Klaus believes that his country's current authorities are seeking to score points with Washington and NATO

PRAGUE, April 23. /TASS/. Vaclav Klaus, former president of the Czech Republic, has said he is ashamed of the current leadership’s policies towards Russia, in particular, the expulsion of Russian diplomats.

"That we, [the Czech Republic] are barking at one of the world powers, makes me feel ashamed and dismayed and extinguishes any desire to try to do anything in this country [Czech Republic]," Klaus told the Blesk daily in an interview, published on Friday. "I see this as evidence [of the current condition] that our country is incapable of having any sensible foreign policy at all."

Klaus believes that the statements by Czech officials regarding the blasts at the Vrbetice ammunition warehouses in 2014 and their allegations that Russian intelligence agencies were supposedly behind the incident, as well as the ensuing expulsion of a group of staffers from the Russian Embassy in Prague were a clear indication that the Czech authorities were seeking to score points with Washington and NATO.

The Czech Republic’s behavior, Klaus said, mirrored that of "a tiny pooch barking at a huge dog." Or, he went on to say, the whole situation may be likened to a quarrel between two boys, with the younger and weaker one becoming bold enough to challenge the stronger opponent for the sole reason that his dad is standing nearby and "should the fight take a bad turn, the adult will step in and protect him."

"Here, we look very much like a tiny pooch. We are barking at Russia, because we think that the US and NATO are ready to throw their weight behind us. I find this policy somewhat foolish," Klaus stated.

The former leader of the Czech Republic criticized the operation of his country’s intelligence services and also called in question the professional competences of Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhanek, appointed on Wednesday. Klaus remarked that Kulhanek was "a very young man nobody has ever heard of anywhere."

Klaus said that on Wednesday he had discussed the Vrbetice incident with his successor to the post of the Czech Republic’s presidency, Milos Zeman, who did not utter a word in support of the polices towards Russia by the Czech government or the Foreign Ministry.

"The president did not tell me that he agreed with the policies of the authorities, including the Foreign Ministry. We did not formulate the question this way," Klaus said.

Incident at Vrbetice and the ensuing wave of diplomatic expulsions

On April 17, Czech officials announced the expulsion of 18 staff members of the Russian Embassy in Prague suspected of being officers of Russia’s intelligence services.

Some newly-discovered evidence surrounding the ammunition warehouse blasts in Vrbetice in 2014 was said to have been the reason.

The Russian Foreign Ministry lodged a strong protest over this step taken on what it described as "groundless and far-fetched pretexts" and declared 20 employees of the Czech Embassy in Moscow as personae non-gratae.

Klaus told the daily Blesk that the Czech authorities’ actions in this situation looked hasty. He argued that "before any fundamental conclusions" could be made regarding the Vrbetice incident, the country’s leadership "should have waited for truly serious figures and facts."

"I believe that the idea of putting forward ultimatums to Russia, as long as such information is unavailable, is wrong," Klaus said.