Moscow/Prague, May 7 (CTK) – The Czech Republic will increase security measures at its diplomatic offices in Russia, the Foreign Ministry told journalists today.
The increase in security is part of is a long-standing plan which was was partially implemented last year. It is not connected with the current developments of Czech-Russian relations, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zuzana Štíchová said.
The Russian media wrote that the measures were connected with recent incidents outside the Czech embassy in Moscow and the Czech general consulate in St Petersburg targeted by extremists.
“At our diplomatic office in Moscow, we have been enhancing security in the long run, both in the diplomatic mission compound and among the diplomatic staff,” Štíchová said.
“This relates to the perimeter protection, the protection of the compound, the checking of the entrance and the like,” Štíchová said, adding that she could not elaborate for the sake of security.
“A part of the project was already implemented at the end of last year. One of the parts of the comprehensive solution is the sending of security staff from the Foreign Ministry. These are not real police officers. The enhancement of the security of the diplomatic office in Moscow has been a long-standing priority, not the reaction to the latest developments,” Štíchová said.
The incidents in the two cities followed the decision of the Prague 6 district authority to remove a statue of Soviet Marshal Ivan Konev. Prague 6 wants to display it in the planned Museum of the Memory of the 20th Century.
Critics of the monument point to Konev’s active role in the suppression of the Hungarian uprising against the Communist regime in 1956, which was crushed by the Soviet Army, the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961, and the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 that put an end to the Prague Spring reform movement.
Russian diplomacy protested against the removal of the statue and Russian bodies launched a criminal prosecution of the Prague 6 representatives responsible for the removal, but the Foreign Ministry of the Czech Republic called this inadmissible.
In early April, activists of The Other Russia demonstrated outside the Czech embassy in Moscow. A masked group wrote Stop Fascism on the fence of the compound and threw several smoke bombs into it, but the Russian police did not intervene. The Czech Republic then sent a protest note to Russian authorities.
Responsibility for the event was claimed by The Other Russia. “Our tanks will be in Prague!” it said.
In mid-April, The Other Russia activists lit up a smoke bomb and put up a banner with a vulgar slogan outside the Czech general consulate in Saint Petersburg.
Earlier this week, the Czech government raised the number of staff at the embassy in Moscow by four.
Czech-Russian relations are now tense. Czech intelligence services have warned of Russian agents.
This week, the Czech Foreign Ministry activated an article of the 1993 Czech-Russian friendly relations deal on the basis of which foreign ministers’ consultations should be held with no delay.