Removal of the statue of Marshal Konev. via Praha6.cz

Czech Security Information Service files criminal complaint over leak in Russian ricin scandal

An investigation into the circumstances under which the information appeared in local media has started

Prague, May 6 (CTK) – The Czech Security Information Service (BIS) has filed a criminal complaint over the leak of classified information about a Russian agent who weekly Respekt alleges came to Prague with the poison ricin, Lidovky.cz writes.

A massive investigation into the circumstances under which the information appeared in local media has been launched, the server states.

Respekt wrote that a Russian intelligence agent with the poison ricin had arrived in the Czech Republic using a diplomatic passport, which Moscow immediately dismissed as a hoax. Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček (Social Democrats, ČSSD) confirmed the diplomat’s arrival, but would not comment on whether he had poison on him.

Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib (Pirates), Prague 6 District Mayor Ondřej Kolář (TOP 09) and Prague-Řeporyje Mayor Pavel Novotný (Civic Democrats, ODS) have recently been placed under police protection.

Russian representatives had previously criticized the steps the three politicians had taken, and threatened them with criminal prosecution.

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“Since some classified information leaked in recent days, which has affected our work, we have filed a criminal complaint,” Lidovky.cz quotes BIS spokesman Ladislav Šticha as saying.

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“A previous investigation has revealed that the illegal leak of classified material occurred outside of the BIS,” he added.

The complaint was sent to the High State Attorney’s Office in Prague, whose head Lenka Bradáčová has declined to comment on the affair.

The server said the prosecutors would investigate who committed the crime of leaking classified data, which carries a sentence three to eight years in prison.

The lower house security committee has dealt with the case, too. It said it considered the reaction of Czech security forces to the possible arrival of a Russian secret agent with ricin in the country adequate. It also expressed support to the BIS when watching the activities of foreign intelligence services.

Citing an unnamed member of the committee, daily Denik N wrote that counter-intelligence chief Michal Koudelka had confirmed to the committee that a diplomat who cooperates with Russian secret services really came to the Czech Republic, and that he may pose a threat to the three politicians.

Koudelka said the diplomat is still at the Russian embassy in Prague and the Czech Republic has not expelled him yet because it does not have direct evidence that he is going to commit a crime, Denik N wrote.

Relations between Russia and Czechia have recently been tense.

Prague City Hall, headed by Hřib, recently renamed the square where the Russian embassy is seated after assassinated politician Boris Nemtsov, who had criticized the regime of Vladimir Putin.

The Prague 6 district headed by Kolář recently removed Soviet Marshal Ivan Konev’s statue from a square.

And most recently, Novotny’s district installed a plaque commemorating the anti-Soviet Russian Liberation Army (ROA) that had helped liberate Prague at the end of World War II.

President Miloš Zeman told Czech Radio on Tuesday that if such a Russian agent had really arrived, the Czech secret services would have confirmed this, which did not happen as he received no such report from them. He said he considers Russia’s threat to prosecute the initiators of the Konev statue removal an overblown reaction, but still a reaction to the stupidity of otherwise insignificant Prague politicians.

On Sunday, Deputy Prime Minister Karel Havlíček (for ANO) told Czech Television that the Russian threats to Prague politicians were unacceptable, but the government would only take retaliatory steps after the information were confirmed by security forces.

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