The publisher of SeznamZpravy.cz claimed that Deputy PM Jan Hamáček was planning to pay a visit to Moscow on April 19 to brush the 2014 Vrbětice ammo depot explosion scandal under the carpet in exchange for obtaining a shipment of Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine.
Hamáček will seek a defamation lawsuit and demand CZK 10 million in compensation after Seznam Zpravy portal published an article about the official which he believes tarnishes his reputation, he told an urgent briefing in Prague on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Seznam Zpravy claimed that Hamacek was planning to pay a visit to Moscow on April 19 to brush the 2014 Vrbětice ammo depot explosion scandal under the carpet in exchange for obtaining a shipment of Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine and Moscow’s agreement to conduct a meeting of the Russian and US presidents in Prague.
“I will file a complaint [with the police] about the crime committed by the authors [of the article]. I will demand to investigate whether crimes of defamation, spreading false information to incite panic and cause damage to rights of a third party did take place. Simultaneously, I will file an administrative lawsuit against the [Seznam Zpravy] publisher who bears responsibility for work of his employees and will demand 10 million korunas as compensation. I am certain it will be successful,” he said.
Hamáček underlined that the accusations put forward against him in the article are “completely false.” They are rebutted by heads of Czech intelligence services, police and Prosecutor General’s Office or those who were aware of the Vrbetice incident case from the start. “[Czech] Prime Minister [Andrej Babis] expressed his support in me,” the minister noted.
According to Hamáček, he has been receiving threats via email since the article came out. Certain politicians from the right-wing parliament opposition camp have branded him a “traitor of the motherland” and he intends to seek apologies from them.
Hamáček thinks that the article can be linked to the upcoming legislative elections in the Czech Republic scheduled for October 8 and 9 and the intention of political opponents to harm the Social Democratic Party which he heads.
At the same time, Jiri Kubik reacted to the minister’s speech stressing that the portal is ready to defend the truthfulness of the information it published in court.
The Czech authorities claim that Russian nationals Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, whom London accuses of attempting to assassinate the Skripals, had allegedly had a hand in the 2014 ammunition depot blasts in the eastern Czech village of Vrbětice.
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.