Thursday, 06 October, 2022

Police protecting Prague mayor after ‘Russian murder plot’

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Zdenek Hrib told the BBC Russian support he was less than law enforcement protection but could not say why

The mayor of Prague has confirmed he is beneath police security, days right after a news report suggested he was the goal of an assassination plot.

Czech newspaper Respekt alleges a Russian agent carrying the poison ricin arrived in the place three months in the past.

Mayor Zdenek Hrib refused to say why he was underneath safety but explained he had told police he was being followed.

Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, dismissed the information report as bogus.

Czech legislation enforcement and politicians have not verified there was a plot. The article cites unnamed intelligence sources and has not been verified.

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Speaking to BBC Russian, Mr Hrib claimed he could not say why he was under police protection.

He did say he experienced filed a report to the authorities following noticing he was staying followed near to his residence, and had seen the exact same particular person “multiple times”, but he extra that he could not validate if the safety was connected to this report.

Mr Hrib also claimed if he had been killed, “this would imply that Russian agencies experienced crossed a red line”, but refused to say whether this kind of a plot existed or was linked to Russia.

The mayor of Prague not long ago backed a determination to improve the identify of the sq. outside the Russian embassy to that of a murdered Russian opposition chief.

The Czech cash also eliminated the statue of Russian Entire world War Two armed service hero Marshal Ivan Konev this thirty day period, sparking anger in Moscow.

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Employees taken out the statue of Marshal Konev in April 2020 all through the coronavirus lockdown

What does the report allege?

The amazing report appeared in Czech weekly investigative information magazine Respekt on Monday.

According to the publication, a Russian person travelling on a diplomatic passport arrived in the Czech capital three weeks back, carrying a suitcase that contains the lethal poison ricin.

He was then taken to the Russian embassy in a diplomatic auto, Respekt claims, citing unnamed intelligence resources.

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Ondrej Kundra, the article’s creator, advised BBC Russian the male had been “doing work for 1 of Russia’s intelligence businesses”.

“Czech law enforcement received concrete details about him and he was identified to be a genuine menace for… municipal politicians who had been in modern months crucial of Kremlin,” he explained.

The report says both equally Zdenek Hrib, the mayor of Prague, and Ondrej Kolar, the mayor of the Prague 6 municipality, are now underneath police protection.

Czech day by day newspaper Denik N claims 3 intelligence sources have told them counter-intelligence workers warned the govt the guy posed a distinct hazard to neighborhood politicians – which includes a third mayor, Pavel Novotny in the close by town of Reporyje.

The newspaper also alleges that the make a difference came up at a conference involving Czech International Minister Tomas Petricek and Russian Ambassador Alexander Zmeyevsky.

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Media captionPrague 1968: The Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia

Zuzana Stichova, Czech overseas ministry spokeswoman, advised the BBC they would “not comment on the leaks published in the media”, adding that they worked with the protection services and “react adequately to all assistance and information we receive about likely threats”.

“The reality stays that numerous weeks back an appropriately accredited Russian diplomat returned to Prague from a organization trip and he was met at the airport by his colleagues,” she stated.

Who are the politicians?

Each Mr Hrib and Mr Kolar have spoken out in opposition to Mr Putin’s govt in recent months.

Mr Hrib backed designs to rename the sq. exterior the Russian embassy to honour Boris Nemtsov, a Russian opposition chief who was killed in the vicinity of the Kremlin in 2015.

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Russia has considering the fact that improved the tackle of its embassy to nearby Korunovacni Road, Czech media reviews.

Numerous other cities – including Washington DC in the US and Vilnius in Lithuania – have renamed regions exterior Russian embassies just after Nemtsov.

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Zdenek Hrib, still left, appeared with Boris Nemtsov’s daughter at the event to formally rename the sq.

Requested if he regretted the decision to support the identify change, Mr Hrib advised BBC Russian: “I would not improve something.”

He also refused to remark on how this could impact relations between the Czech Republic and Russia. “Listed here in Prague we really don’t do foreign politics,” he explained, incorporating diplomacy was “exterior the scope of the mayor of Prague”.

Mr Kolar meanwhile prominently backed initiatives to remove a statue of Earth War Two-era Soviet Marshal Ivan Konev from Prague.

Konev is regarded as a war hero in Russia, and was the very first Allied commander to enter the Czech cash in 1945 just after Nazi forces remaining the city.

But a statue to Konev erected in Prague in 1980 proved controversial, because of to Konev’s position in the suppression of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 and his actions through the Prague Spring in 1968.

The monument was sooner or later removed this month for the duration of the coronavirus lockdown – a shift condemned by the Czech president as “an abuse of the point out of unexpected emergency”.

Russia has considering the fact that announced an investigation into the elimination of the Konev statue.

Mr Kolar was earlier compelled to leave Prague in 2019 just after getting threats on the web because of the discussion about the statue.

The USSR managed Communist-run Czechoslovakia for four many years. Soviet-led forces invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968 just after the govt there handed a series of reforms to liberalise the Communist country.

Communist control of the place ended in 1989. The Czech Republic amicably break up with Slovakia in January 1993.

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