Domodedovo airport in Moscow (Illustrative image)

Czech delegation led by Agriculture Minister Miroslav Toman barred from flight in Russia

A Czech delegation led by Agriculture Minister Miroslav Toman ended its visit to Russia early today after Russians barred its flight from Moscow to Kazan

Prague, Nov 28 (CTK) – A Czech delegation led by Agriculture Minister Miroslav Toman ended its visit to Russia early today after Russians barred its flight from Moscow to Kazan, Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek has told CTK, adding that his ministry does not have Moscow’s official position on the controversy for now.

The ministry has been dealing with the situation since Tuesday night. It is gathering information about the reasons why Russian authorities barred the Czech flight, Petricek (Social Democrats, CSSD) said.

Toman (CSSD) and the delegation of Czech businesspeople returned to Prague this morning.

“For the moment, we are gathering all information about the reason why our plane was denied permission for a domestic flight in Russia. We have not received the Russian side’s official position so far,” Petricek said.

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The Foreign Ministry is dealing with the situation actively. “I would not speculate about [our] further steps,” he said.

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Arriving in Russia on Monday, Toman and the delegation were to stay there for five days until Friday. On Wednesday, they were scheduled to fly from Moscow to Kazan for negotiations with Tatarstan’s representatives. The flight did not take place, however.

“Unfortunately, despite its previous assurances, the Russian side did not keep its promise and did not enable the plane with the delegation to depart for Kazan,” server E15 quoted Agriculture Ministry spokesman Vojtech Bily as saying earlier today.

Voicing his disappointment at the Russian authorities’ approach, Toman said Czech and Russian entrepreneurs were interested in mutual cooperation and that the behaviour of Russian authorities arouses questions about Moscow’s interest in the cooperation.

Frantisek Masopust, the head of the board of directors of the Czech Chamber of Trade and Industry for the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS Chamber), said the Russian approach is a negative signal for all Czech entrepreneurs operating in Russia.

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Czech-Russian relations were affected by several controversies this year.

In June, uproar broke out in Czechia in reaction to Russian lawmakers’ proposal to grant the war veteran status to the participants in the August 1968 Soviet-led military invasion of Czechoslovakia.

In September, a controversy arose over the Prague 6 District Town Hall’s proposal to remove the local statue of Soviet Marshal Ivan Konev. In reaction to this, Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky compared Prague 6 Mayor Ondrej Kolar (TOP 09) to Nazi officers.

Most recently, Prague-Reporyje district Mayor Pavel Novotny (Civic Democrats, ODS) ran into a dispute with the Russian embassy in Prague over his district’s plan to install a monument to General Andrei Vlasov’s Russian Liberation Army (ROA), which fought alongside the Nazis against Stalin’s Soviet Union during WWII and helped liberate Prague in May 1945.

A couple of weeks ago, Russia put the Czech humanitarian organisation People in Need on its list of groupings that are undesirable in Russia.

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Another Czech delegation faced problems with a domestic flight in Russia in 2015. The Moscow airport staff then for several hours barred a Czech government plane with a delegation headed by former lower house deputy chairman Petr Gazdik (Mayors and Independent, STAN) from flying to Ulyanovsk to unveil a monument of Czechoslovak legionaries.

The Czech Chamber of Deputies and the Foreign Ministry then intervened in search of a solution, and Russia subsequently called the incident an unfortunate misunderstanding.

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