Prague, March 27 (CTK) – President Milos Zeman’s decision that the BIS counter-intelligence service should check whether the Novichok nerve agent, which was used to attack a Russian former spy Sergei Skripal in Britain, was developed or stored in Czech territory, is not useless, Defence Minister Karla Slechtova said today.
Slechtova said she hoped the BIS would confirm the information that had been available to her before.
Britain said Russia was behind the Novichok attack and it expelled Russian diplomats. Russia rejected it and took a retaliatory step. Last Thursday, the political leaders of EU member states backed Britain.
European Council President Donald Tusk said 14 EU countries decided to expel Russian diplomats over the attack against Skripal and his daughter, who had been poisoned by the Novichok nerve agent.
As a sign of solidarity, the Czech government decided to expel three members of the Russian diplomatic staff.
Last week, Russia claimed that Novichok might have come from the Czech Republic.
Prime Minister Andrej Babis dismissed the allegation, calling it “a blatant lie.”
Slechtova said on Monday she had informed Zeman about some confidential affairs.
“This is why I will not comment on anything,” she added.
She said she knew Zeman was about to entrust the BIS with the search.
“This poses no problem to me. This is within the presidential powers and I hope that the results will correspond with my information within the confidential regime,” Slechtova said.
“This is nothing redundant or useless,” she added.
“As the defence minister I insist on what I tweeted first that there is no Novichok or its part in the Czech Republic,” Slechtova said.
The chairman of the opposition Mayors and Independents (STAN), Petr Gazdik, criticised Zeman’s step on Monday.
“If the relevant minister said that the nerve gas did not come from our country and the president still entrusted the BIS with an investigation, whereby he challenged the minister’s statement, he moves on the brink of treason,” Gazdik said.
“The Senate should act,” he added.
The head of the STAN deputy group, Jan Farsky told journalists the debate related to treason.
“Russia is leading a hybrid war against the Western world. The spread of disinformation is one of its parts. Zeman has joined the spread of disinformation,” Farsky said.
He said Zeman had revived the disinformation after the government representatives denied it.
“He (Zeman) has run counter to the interest and security of the Czech Republic, acting in the interest of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and Russia,” Farsky said.
Under the constitution, treason is a behaviour acting against the national sovereignty and integrity and its democratic constitution on the part of the president.
Based on an indictment by the Senate, the Constitutional Court may rule that the president loses the office and capability to regain it.
The Civic Democratic Party (ODS) also criticised Zeman.
“Although the prime minister and defence minister have dismissed the allegation that the Novichok may have originated in the Czech Republic as a Russian provocation, Zeman lets the BIS search for its Czech origin,” the party has tweeted.
“One day he has to decide whether to prefer Putin or his own country,” it added.
On the other hand, the anti-European Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) defended Zeman.
Radim Fiala, chairman of the SPD deputy group, condemned the statement about a possible treason charge.
Fiala said Zeman only wanted to know the truth about the affair.
The case should at first be investigated and only subsequently a decision on the expulsion of the diplomats should be made, he added.
Fiala said the case bore the signs of a political provocation.
He added that he feared that the Czech Republic might become an instrument against Russia.