Zeman: “Russia Not Necessarily Behind 2014 Ammunition Blast”

Czech President Milos Zeman said on Sunday the idea that Russian spies caused a 2014 ammunition dump explosion in Vrbětice was just one of two theories and the possibility it was an accident should not be ruled out.

Zeman’s statement came just over a week after the government sparked a row with Moscow by saying it suspected that two Russian spies accused of a nerve agent poisoning in Britain in 2018 were also behind the Czech 2014 explosion that killed two people.

“We are working with two investigative theories – the first, original one, that there was an explosion resulting from inexpert handling of explosives, and the second that it was an operation of a foreign intelligence service,” he said in the speech, carried on Prima television.

Prime Minister Andrej Babis said on April 17 that there was well-grounded suspicion of the involvement of Russian military intelligence service GRU in the explosions. The government has not announced any other possible version of the events.

The Czech government expelled 18 Russian diplomats and other embassy staff it identified as spies last week, which Zeman said he supported.

It ordered a further 63 diplomats and Russian staff to leave by the end of May, to bring the Prague Russian embassy to the same level as its Czech counterpart in Moscow.

Moscow retaliated by ordering out 20 Czech diplomats and staff, and also requiring the Czechs to cut by May about 90 Russian support staff working at the Czech embassy and a complex including a hotel for Czech visitors to Moscow.

The European Union and NATO have issued statements in support of the central European country and the Baltic states and Slovakia have expelled Russian diplomats in solidarity.

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