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Respekt: Russian embassy officials expelled from Prague were spies

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Prague, April 3 (CTK) – The three Russian diplomats, who were expelled from Prague in reaction to the Skripal case, belonged to Russian secret services that operate in the Czech Republic under diplomatic cover, weekly Respekt writes in its issue out on Tuesday, citing its sources.

Two of the diplomats worked for the Russian foreign civilian intelligence SVR, one for the foreign military intelligence GRU, Respekt writes.

According to its sources, the most important of the three spies was one of the two working for the SVR who officially occupied the post of the security director at the Russian embassy in Prague.

Other embassy employees had to report all their meetings outside the embassy and what they do in their leisure time to the security director who also assessed the security risks from Czech secret services and took care that the spies were not uncovered, Respekt writes.

According to information from the Czech security community, “the security director” maybe had more important tasks: he could assign secret tasks to all Russian spies operating in the Czech territory, the weekly writes.

From the available information, it is not clear what the three spies did in the Czech Republic. Respekt’s sources said these spies tried to influence some new bills and gathered sensitive data about the country’s energy industry and security.

One of the spies was a senior diplomat and one was a business representative.

All three Czech secret services agreed on the expulsion of these three men. The counter-intelligence BIS originally selected a group of 11 spies, Respekt writes.

The final decision on how many Russian diplomats would be expelled was political and it was made by Prime Minister Andrej Babis. Babis said last week the Russian officials who would be expelled were covert agents, not diplomats.

The Czech Republic was one of 26 countries that expelled Russian diplomats in reaction to the poisoning of double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the English town of Salisbury, for which Russia is responsible according to Britain.

In total, 144 Russian diplomats linked to the Russian intelligence were expelled from Europe, America and Australia, which is the highest number in the modern history of relations between the Western allies and Russia. Russia said it would expel the same number from its territory in retaliation. The expulsion of three Czech diplomats was confirmed a few days ago.

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