Russia Requests Czech Police Protection For Alleged Ricin Trafficker
By RFE/RL May 13, 2020
PRAGUE -- Russia's embassy in the Czech Republic has formally requested Czech police protection for one of its employees -- a Russian diplomat accused in the Czech media of bringing highly toxic ricin to Prague in an alleged plot to poison three senior municipal officials.
Czech Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek forwarded the Russian Embassy's request to the police on May 12.
The request says Andrei Konchakov, deputy director of the embassy's Russian Center for Science and Culture, has been receiving anonymous threats since he was named on May 10 in the Czech media as part of an alleged triple assassination plot by Russia targeting the Prague officials.
All three of the officials had supported the removal from Prague of a controversial statue honoring the Soviet Red Army's Marshal Ivan Konev.
According to the Czech media reports, Konchakov brought ricin from Russia to Prague in mid-March that was meant to be used in a plot to poison Prague Mayor Zdenek Hrib and two other senior municipal officials, Ondrej Kolar and Pavel Novotny.
Earlier Czech media reports said Moscow planned to poison the three Czech politicians in retaliation for initiating the removal of Konev's monument from Prague.
The three officials and members of their families have been under police protection since then.
Moscow has also been accused of deploying agents from the GRU military intelligence for numerous attempted assassinations of the Kremlin's opponents in other countries -- including Britain, Bulgaria, and Germany.
There is also a long history of Kremlin involvement in assassinations and attempted assassinations using poisons.
The British government, as well as the online investigative website Bellingcat, have released evidence implicating GRU agents in the 2018 poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England using the nerve agent novichok -- a military-grade chemical weapon developed in the Soviet Union.
The Kremlin has denied involvement in all of the attacks and has dismissed reports about the latest alleged poisoning plot in Prague as part of a "disinformation campaign" aimed at discrediting Russia.
Moscow has threatened "serious consequences" for Czech-Russian relations.
With reporting by Ceska Televize, Hospodarske noviny, and Bellingcat
Copyright (c) 2020. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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