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March 20, 2018 8:55 pm | FILED UNDER: europe

Foreign Minister Calls On Russians To Explain Nerve Agent Claims

By ČTK

Prague, March 20 (CTK) – Foreign Minister Martin Stropnicky has summoned Russian ambassador to Prague Alexander Zmeyevsky for Wednesday to explain the Russian diplomacy’s statement that the poison used against a former Russian spy in Britain may come from the Czech Republic, the ministry tweeted today.

 

Stropnicky (ANO) rejected the Russian statement on Saturday.

 

“The ambassador to the Russian Federation, Alexander Vladimirovich Zmeyevsky, has been summoned to the Foreign Affairs Ministry for Wednesday afternoon to explain the Russian mendacious statement,” the ministry tweeted.

 

The Novichok nerve agent was used in an attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Britain earlier in March. Both are in a critical condition. According to several sources, this nerve agent was developed in the former Soviet Union. London accuses Moscow of the attack, which Moscow denies.

 

The Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the Czech parliament, refused to deal with the Russian diplomacy allegation, which the opposition right-wing Civic Democrats (ODS) and TOP 09 demanded.

 

Deputies for the government ANO, except for Stropnicky, along with the Communists (KSCM) and the ultra-right anti-EU Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) voted against a debate on the issue.

 

Stropnicky also dismissed the criticism by ODS MP Jana Cernochova for not having reacted to the Russian accusation sufficiently strongly. He pointed to his negative stance issued on Saturday already.

 

The spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Saturday that the most probable sources of the lethal substance of the Novichok type were the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Britain or Sweden.

 

In reaction to it, Stropnicky called the statements about the origin of Novichok “a standard way of manipulating information in public space” and a typical attempt to divert attention from the findings of British investigators.

 

Defence Minister Karla Slechtova (ANO) also sharply rejected the Russian allegation.

 

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said today the reactions by the Czech Republic and Sweden, which had also rejected the allegation, changed nothing in the fact that these countries had the possibility to develop agents of the Novichok type.

 

The ODS and TOP 09 MPs agreed today to call on the government of Andrej Babis (ANO) to react to the Russian allegation.

 

In this respect, the ODS also challenged President Milos Zeman, saying he failed as he had not raised objections to the Russian diplomacy’s allegation about the Novichok origin.

 

TOP 09 also called on Stropnicky today to consider expelling Russian diplomats from the Czech Republic.

 

London expelled more than 20 Russian diplomats over the attack on Skripal, and Moscow reacted in kind.

 

A group of 27 senators called on the ANO minority government to protest against the Russian allegation on Monday.

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