PARIS, (BM) – On October 16, 2014, an explosion destroyed an ammunition depot in Vrbetice, hired by the Imex group of the Military Technical Institute [VTU], a Czech state-owned company. Two employees died there. Then, on December 3 of the same year, a second warehouse stored 100 tons of ammunition met the same fate, except that there were no casualties.
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The reasons for these two explosions remain unknown when, on April 17, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and his Interior Minister Jan Hamáček blamed the GRU, opex360 reports. Russian military intelligence is in its infancy. “Irrefutable” evidence to support this.
Thus, according to Czech officials, two GRU members, Alexander Mishkin and Anatoli Chepiga, are suspected of playing a leading role in the affair. These two are not strangers; in September 2018, London issued two arrest warrants related to their involvement in the assassination attempt on Colonel Sergei Skripal [former GRU] and his daughter with Novichok, a powerful neuroparalytic developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
According to Prague, the two GRU spies arrived in the Czech Republic on October 11, 2014, with the stated purpose of visiting the ammunition depots located in Vrbetice, pretending to be clients working for the National Guard of Tajikistan. For this, they would present Moldovan and Tajik passports with the names “Ruslan Bochirov” and “Alexander Petrov.” These are the same identities they will use in 2018 to enter the UK to eliminate Colonel Skripal.
The motive would have a connection with another case, that of the Bulgarian industrialist Emilian Gebrev, also a victim of an assassination attempt in April 2015. An attempt also made at the expense of the GRU … and more precisely for that of block 29155 of its 161st Special Training Center. A unit that leaves a lot of traces behind.
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According to the Czech press, the target warehouse contained military equipment that the Bulgarian businessman was going to sell to Ukraine. A priori, the first explosion should not have taken place on Czech territory but during the cargo transfer—the same thing for the second.
In any case, Moscow gave the role to the GRU in this case, therefore, motivated the Czech government’s decision to expel 18 Russian “diplomats” from the country. In return, Moscow announced the expulsion of 20 Czech diplomats, treating Mr. Babis’ accusations as a “provocation” and an “act of hostility.”
In recent years, the Czech BIS counterintelligence service has regularly denounced Russian intelligence in the Czech Republic, accusing them of waging an “information war” to “destabilize the country.” All this, while noting that about a third of the 150 “diplomats” at the Russian embassy in Prague is said to be “undercover scouts.” This seems disproportionate given the size of the Czech Republic.
A few days ago, however, Jan Hamáček proposed a meeting in Prague between US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. And there was even talk of the Czech Republic receiving the Russian Sputnik V vaccine. We must say that the political situation in the country is complicated, with a president, Milos Zeman, an openly pro-Kremlin and instead Kremlin prime minister. -European [which does not prevent him from being critical of the EU], which condemned the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
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