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HN: Russians sending refugees to Europe, Czech foreign min says

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Prague, March 15 (CTK) – The current migrant crisis is being fuelled by Russia as it “supplies” Europe with refugees, Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek (Social Democrats, CSSD) said in an interview for the daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) yesterday.
Zaoralek said he had the information from the Monday meeting of EU foreign ministers.
“Russians are very active in sending the refugees to us by various northern routes such as by air,” he added.
“It has been proven how our Slavic brethren help us by supplying us with the biggest possible number of refugees,” Zaoralek said sarcastically.
The European Union is trying to close the southern, Balkan route to migrants and to agree with Turkey on the return of illegal migrants.
Zaoralek said there was the threat that the refugees would be looking for other routes through which to get in Europe.
One of them may be the northern route across Russia and the Nordic countries, “discovered” by refugees last year already, HN writes.
Speaking to journalists in Brussels yesterday, Zaoralek said the issue has been discussed for a long time now.
“At the moment, it is no crucial topic. However, the nordic countries have provided the same information, too,” he said.
The number of the refugees involved is not dramatic, it reaches several hundreds or thousands, Zaoralek said.
He said the issue is on the agenda also in connection with possible new routes migrants may try to use now that the Balkans route has been closed. However, it was not discussed at the latest meeting of EU ministers, he added.
The speculations that Russia started encouraging the smuggling business on its territory appeared earlier.
Last October, the idea was suggested by Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky (ANO).
He said that according to the information of his Hungarian opposite number, Russians were transferring refugees in the Balkans to the border with the EU.
Russia does not grant asylum to any displaced persons, but it allows them to travel across it to Europe.
Zaoralek said during his Monday meeting with his EU counterparts in Brussels that the Czech Republic was ready to support the stiffening of the EU sanctions to those Russian citizens who are implicated in the persecution of Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko.
Zaoralek said the Savchenko case was “abhorrent and prefabricated.”
Savchenko faces up to 25 years in prison for murder and illegal crossing of the Russian border.

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