Russia denies Czech weekly Respekt's claim about ricin-carrying agent in Prague

The Kremlin has said the Czech weekly's story claiming a Russian agent equipped with poison arrived in Prague three weeks ago is a hoax

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 27.04.2020 16:31 (updated on 27.04.2020)

Moscow/Prague, April 27 (CTK) – Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov today said the Czech weekly Respekt’s text claiming that a Russian agent equipped with ricin poison arrived in Prague three weeks ago amounts to a hoax.

In its latest issue out today, Respekt referred to unnamed sources claiming that the person in question arrived carrying a diplomatic passport and was met by a Russian embassy vehicle upon arrival at the Prague airport.

The weekly said the person is an agent of a Russian secret service and that Czech security officials deem his arrival a threat mainly for Prague 6 District Mayor Ondřej Kolář (TOP 09) and Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib (Pirates).

According to the Interfax Russian press agency, Peskov told journalists that he has no knowledge about such an investigation and that he thinks the information is a hoax.

The agency also reminded that Hřib was recently assigned police protection without the City Hall explaining the decision.

“The police assigned protection to me based on their decision, I cannot speak about the reasons and measures taken,” Hřib told the Echo Moskvy (Moscow’s Echo) radio station according to Interfax.

Hřib and Kolář both faced Russian criticism in the past several weeks over the steps each of them and their respective offices have taken.

The Prague City Hall recently decided to rename the Pod Kastany square, where the Russian embassy was seated, to the Boris Nemtsov Square.

Nemtsov was Russian vice prime minister in the late 1990s. Later he published reports on corruption under President Vladimir Putin and organised events in support of fair elections and democracy. He was assassinated in Moscow five years ago.

Kolář decided to remove the memorial to Soviet marshal Ivan Konev from a square in his city district. In its place, a new memorial to the liberation of Prague during the Second World War is to be built and Konev’s statue is to be moved to the new Museum of the Memory of the 20th Century.

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Russian representatives stated they want Kolar and other Prague 6 politicians sued, but the Czech Foreign Ministry said such prosecution is inadmissible.

Peskov said today that he will not comment on the Konev statue because he already said everything.

Respekt wrote that it is unacceptable that no Czech politicians reacted to the news about the arrival of the Russian agent.

The weekly also called for the expulsion of Russian Ambassador to Prague Alexander Zmeyevsky.

In recent years, Czech commentators repeatedly called attention to the unusually high number of Russian diplomats in Prague.