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Russian ambassador summoned over “gross harassment” of Czech diplomats

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Prague, Czech Republic – The Czech Foreign Ministry has summoned the Russian ambassador to protest against what Prague describes as the “harassment” of its diplomats in Moscow.

“The staff of our embassy in Moscow have been the target of gross harassment by the Russian authorities,” ministry spokeswoman Lenka Do said this week-end.

“We will not give details for security reasons, but we appeal to the Russian side to comply with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations”, she told the Czech News Agency.

In response to these “provocations”, deputy-Foreign Minister Martin Smolek summoned Alexandr Zmejevskij, who has been Moscow’s envoy to the Czech Republic since 2016.

Diplomatic relations between Prague and Moscow have been strained even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last month.

In 2021, more than a dozen Russian employees were expelled from the Czech Republic following revelations of Moscow’s role in a deadly ammunition depot explosion in 2014.

Successive tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats followed amid wider concerns regarding the presence of Russian secret service agents on Czech soil under cover of diplomatic activity.

The Czech consulates in St. Petersburg and Ekaterinburg were closed after Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, and the Czech government suspended the operation of the Russian consulates in Brno and Karlovy Vary.

The Czech Republic has also stopped issuing visas to Russian citizens, except for humanitarian cases.

“We have reduced diplomatic contacts to a bare minimum, and we will consider further measures,” commented Prime Minister Petr Fiala. “I will not rule out or confirm anything”.

Headed by Kafkadesk's chief-editor Jules Eisenchteter, our Prague office gathers over half a dozen reporters, editors and contributors, as well as our social media team. It covers everything Czech and Slovak-related, and oversees operations from our other Central European desks in Krakow and Budapest.