Czech diplomat Tomáš Hart, who was expelled from Russia this week, was contacted by the Russian secret service with an offer of cooperation, the websites Respekt.cz and Deník N reported, citing the diplomat himself.
The Russians also threatened another Czech diplomat in Russia before deporting him. “We know about your family situation,” an FSB agent told a Czech diplomat on the street.
Mr. Hart was invited to a meeting in Moscow. According to the Czech Foreign Ministry, it was a clear attempt to recruit co-workers for espionage.
On March 30, the Czech Republic decided to expel a diplomat from the Russian Embassy in Prague out of the country, to “lower the Russian intelligence presence in the EU“.
According to Deník N, the embassy worker in question was the deputy ambassador Feodosyi Vladyshevsky.
Diplomatic relations between the Czech Republic and Russia have been strained for some time.
Last spring, the Czech Republic expelled 18 Russian embassy staff following revelations by the intelligence services that GRU agents were behind the 2014 munitions explosions in the Vrbětice munitions depot in the Zlín region, in Moravia.
The Czech Republic also became the first country to send tanks to Ukraine, specifically a dozen T-72 tanks and armoured personnel carriers.
Defence Minister Jana Černochová had repeatedly announced plans to step up Prague’s military aid to support the Ukrainian army against the Russian invasion but refused to disclose the details for security reasons.
“The Czech Republic has been sending old Soviet-designed tanks into Ukraine, providing badly needed heavy weapons to outgunned Ukrainian troops that are battling a much better-equipped Russian invasion force,” the Wall Street Journal wrote, citing Czech and Slovak security officials.