Prague, May 24 (CTK) – The Czech Chamber of Deputies will hold an extraordinary session to discuss the case of alleged Czech production of the Novichok nerve-paralysing substance and President Milos Zeman’s statements on it next Thursday, it announced on its website today.
The session has been provoked by 55 deputies from five parties in parliament – TOP 09, the Civic Democrats (ODS), the Pirates, the Mayors and Independents (STAN) and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), TOP 09 deputies’ group chairman Miroslav Kalousek told CTK after submitting the request earlier this afternoon.
The Chamber was to discuss the Novichok case at its current regular session, but the issue was withdrawn from the session’s agenda on Tuesday on the proposal of the Communists (KSCM), which they pushed through together with ANO and the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD).
The convoking of the session does not automatically mean that it will take place, as the deputies may fail to approve its programme at the beginning, as a result of which the session would be scrapped.
Nevertheless, a debate on the programme alone will give the space for a discussion to at least selected authorised speakers, who are the heads of deputies’ groups and parties, and members of the government and of the lower house leadership.
The session is to discuss the house’s draft resolution on the alleged Czech production and testing of Novichok.
“The president [Zeman] heavily harmed the Czech Republic for the benefit of the Russian propaganda when he asserted that such a substance was produced in our country. It was not, and the Chamber of Deputies, as the top constitutional authority, should say it clearly,” Kalousek told CTK.
In early May, Zeman said, referring to the Czech Military Intelligence Service (VZ), that Novichok was produced in the Czech Republic last year. According to the civilian counter-intelligence service (BIS), no Novichok was produced in the country, Zeman continued, but added that he prefers sharing the VZ’s opinion.
Moscow used Zeman’s statements to challenge London’s assertion that the Novichok substance, with which former Russian agent Sergei Skripal was poisoned in Britain in March, came from Russia.
Zeman’s words about the Czech production of Novichok were subsequently dismissed by PM Andrej Babis, the lower house foreign committee and the upper house security and foreign committee. They said the VZ and BIS do not differ on the issue and both wrote in their reports that Novichok has been neither produced nor stored in the Czech Republic.