PRAGUE, May 6./TASS/. Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis has spoken in favor of defusing tensions that are running high in relations between Moscow and Prague. His answers to the questions from parliamentarians of the lower house of parliament were broadcast by Czech TV channels on Thursday.
"I think we must calm down this tense atmosphere fuelled by emotions," Babis said.
He mentioned a possibility of seeing the Czech Republic on the list of states unfriendly to Russia, which is being drawn up, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry. "I don’t know, maybe this [possible listing among unfriendly states] is not enough for you?" the prime minister asked the legislators. "Our diplomatic relations are in a crisis," he added.
The prime minister assured the parliamentarians that the reaction of Czech authorities to the incident at warehouses in the Czech settlement of Vrbetice, in which Prague suspects Russian secret services, was correct. "We acted as a sovereign state. We received a show of solidarity from our allies [in the EU and NATO]," the prime minister said.
He once again emphasized that Prague dismissed as "lies and misinformation" media reports saying that landmines banned by international agreements had been kept at Vrbetice. The prime minister pledged that the country remained fully committed to its international obligations.
He said it was a big problem that the Czech army had leased the depots at Vrbetice to Imex Group company. "I could not understand why we had leased depots to that suspicious firm. It is necessary to have better state control of what military hardware is stored on our territory," the prime minister said.
He failed to answer legislators’ question whether the Czech Republic would issue an international warrant for the arrest of Russian agents that Prague suspects of organizing the explosions at Vrbetice. "I cannot answer this question. This is a matter of the police and the general prosecutor’s office, which are investigating it," the prime minister explained.
He also reiterated that the government had removed Russian state-run nuclear corporation Rosatom from the list of participants in the tender for the construction of a new power unit of the Dukovany Nuclear Power Plant.
The Czech authorities claim that Russian nationals Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, whom London accuses of attempting to assassinate the Skripals, allegedly had a hand in the 2014 ammunition depot blasts in the eastern Czech village of Vrbetice. On April 17, Prague 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 Russian Foreign Ministry protested against the move and declared 20 employees of the Czech Embassy in Moscow personae non gratae.