Monday, 4 March 2019

Respekt: Zmeyevsky to be new Russian ambassador in Prague

ČTK |
22 December 2015

Prague, Dec 21 (CTK) - Former Russian special presidential representative for international cooperation in combating terrorism and transnational organised crime Alexander Zmeyevsky will become the new ambassador to the Czech Republic, weekly Respekt writes yesterday.
The term of the current Russian ambassador to the Czech Republic, Sergei Kiselyov, is ending after five years and six months, Respekt writes.
Kiselyov will be replaced by Zmeyevsky in March, it adds, referring to its diplomatic sources.
In the security sphere, the choice of Zmeyevsky, a Putin's aide, is interpreted as a sign that for Russia, the embassy in Prague is still crucial, Respekt writes.
For a long time, this has been also proven by its unusually numerous staff, it adds.
At present, there are 120 Russian diplomats in Prague, while China has 28 and the USA 70 of them, Respekt writes.
The much bigger Britain has only allowed the Russian embassy in London to have 70 employees, it adds.
Czech intelligence sources estimate that at least 30 percent of the ambassadorial staff are members of Russian intelligence services or are in close contact with them and act in their interest, Respekt writes.
These activities focus on the gathering of compromising information on politicians, efforts to influence the legislative process and the Czech Republic's geopolitical focus, of which the BIS counter-intelligence regularly warns in its annual reports, it adds.
However, the work in the Czech Republic is not the only task Russian agents have here. According to the testimonies by some previous representatives of Russian services, the Russian intelligence assessed Prague as a relatively safe haven.
It was chosen as a place from which Russian spies will conduct their operations in the whole of Central Europe, especially in Germany whose secret services are more capable and have more staff than the Czech ones, Respekt writes.
"As we realised this, we wanted the government to increase our budget and our capabilities," a senior Czech intelligence official is quoted as saying.
This really occurred as the government gave more money to the BIS this year, Respekt writes.
Some politicians have proposed a more resolute measure in the form of a radical reduction of the diplomats (but in reality spies) at the Russian embassy, it adds.
This week, this step was taken by NATO as it expelled 30 Russian diplomats from Brussels.
However, Prague is not about to follow suit for fear of Moscow's reciprocating, Respekt writes.
As the Czech embassy in Russia only has 25 people, it would be crippled if Moscow retaliated, it adds.

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