Czech police announce manhunt for two Russian nationals matching Skripal-poisoners’ description
Apr 18 2021
"The Czech Republic is a sovereign state and has to respond to the unprecedented findings [of the investigation] appropriately", Mr Babis added.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš late Saturday said the government had "clear evidence" that officers from "unit 29155 of the Russian military intelligence service GRU" had been involved in blowing up the ammunition depots at the Vrbětice complex.
The Czech weekly Respekt reported the two Russian agents, named as Anatoly Chepig and Alexander Mishkin, were in the Czech Republic and probably on the site of the ammunition depot in October 2014 when the deadly blast took place.
Czech authorities today accused the men of causing an explosion on October 16, 2014 at a warehouse with 58 tonnes of ammunition.
Hamacek, who is the interior minister and also an interim foreign minister after his predecessor was sacked earlier this week, said he was sorry the incident would "fundamentally damage Czech-Russian relations". "We appreciate their significant action to impose costs on Russian Federation for its risky actions on Czech soil".
The two were using Russian passports and were identified as Alexander Petrov, 41, and Ruslan Boshirov, 43.
Babis said President Milos Zeman, who is known for his pro-Russian views, has been informed about the development and has "expressed absolute support for us".
A diplomatic source cited by Russian news agency Interfax suggested the expulsions could prompt Russia to shut the Czech Republic's embassy in Moscow.
'We are in a situation similar to that in Britain following the attempted poisoning in Salisbury in 2018, ' he said, referring to the case of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal who survived a nerve agent poisoning in Britain.
He said the investigation into the case has not yet been completed but thanked the country's security forces for their "professional job".
They said the two also visited the capital of Prague and another northeastern Czech region.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said her country would answer the Czech move.
The statement from the Czech police does not mention the attack against the Skripals.
The Czech Republic "has apparently made a decision to close its embassy in Moscow" by expelling 18 Russian diplomats, the Interfax news agency quoted an unnamed diplomatic source as saying on Saturday.