Didn’t have time to read the news lately? Kafkadesk’s got you covered: here’s our recap of what’s been going on during these last few days.
Visegrad Four, minus Slovakia: Russian diplomats expelled
On Monday, the Czech Republic announced it would expel three Russian diplomats, giving them and their families until April 1st to comply and leave the country. The decision was made following the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the U.K. on March 4. While Moscow has denied the allegations it was responsible for the attack, over two dozens Western countries have joined the British government’s stance and decided to take retaliatory measures.
Overall, around 150 Russian diplomats are expected to be expelled from the U.K., the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Ukraine and other European nations. Poland (4) and Hungary (1) have also decided to take similar action.
Furthermore, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš strongly refuted Russia’s claim that the Novichok nerve gas used in the attack may have come from the Czech Republic. President Miloš Zeman, known for his pro-Russian views, asked the Czech intelligence services (BIS) to investigate whether this nerve agent, developed in the former USSR in the 1970’s and 1980’s, could have originated from the country. This move sparked the anger of many politicians, who accused the head of state of undermining the government’s position and putting national security at risk. Other accused countries, including Slovakia and Sweden, have similarly refuted Moscow’s allegations.
Czech Republic: Paul Ryan on official business in Prague
The Czech Republic’s decision to expel Russian diplomats was praised by U.S. House of Representatives speaker Paul Ryan, who was on a two-day visit in the Czech capital this week. Paul Ryan is the highest-ranking U.S. official to come to Prague since President Obama’s visit in 2009.
In Prague, the speaker of the House met with several Czech politicians, including Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, gave an address to the Czech Chamber of Deputies and a speech at Charles University. His visit coincides with the celebration of the 100th anniversary of U.S.-Czech bilateral relations and comes a few months after the arrival of new U.S. Ambassador Stephen King (no, not this one).
Slovakia: Anti-government protesters take to the streets
In Slovakia, Peter Pellegrini’s new government won the support of the Slovak parliament, with 81 MP’s voting in favour, out of 144 representatives present.
In the streets, protesters continued to march in Bratislava and Košice to call for early elections and voice their discontent with the new cabinet. Many see this recent cabinet reshuffle as a purely decorative move, arguing that Robert Fico will, in effect, keep pulling the string from behind the scenes.
Peter Pellegrini, 42, was appointed Prime minister following the resignation of Robert Fico in the wake of journalist Ján Kuciak’s murder. Vice-president of Smer-SD since 2014, Peter Pellegrini held several government positions in the past, including state secretary for Finance, minister for Education, Science, Research and Sports and speaker of the National Council. He became deputy-Prime minister for investments and informatisation in March 2016.