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Senators reject Zeman’s steps concerning Novichok, Nikulin

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Prague, April 3 (CTK) – The Senate security committee condemned on Tuesday President Milos Zeman for having asked the BIS counter-intelligence to check whether the Novichok nerve agent was developed or stored in the Czech Republic and for his interference in alleged Russian hacker Yevgeniy Nikulin’s case.

The committee said these activities were security and foreign political risks. It called on Zeman to refrain from similar steps and respect his powers defined by the constitution.

Novichok was used in the attack a former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain in March. Russian diplomacy claimed that Novichok might have come from the Czech Republic, while London accused Moscow of the attack.

Justice Minister Robert Pelikan recently decided that Nikulin would be extradited to the United States, while Zeman previously supported his extradition to Russia, which also sought it. The Presidential Office head contacted Pelikan over the case and Zeman’s spokesman Jiri Ovcacek questioned the rightfulness of Nikulin’ extradition to the United States.

“A long-term trend of the president of the Czech Republic and his close aides defending the economic and power interests of foreign states has culminated by these cases,” the committee said in a resolution that its initiator Vaclav Laska released on Twitter.

Senate press secretary Eva Davidova also informed CTK about this stance.

Zeman’s spokesman Jiri Ovcacek called the senators’ statement useless.

“The president has long supported our unambiguous anchoring in the European Union and NATO,” Ovcacek tweeted.

“The committee does not consider it admissible that the Czech president and his surroundings publicly question the government’s steps and motives and the legitimacy of the process of extradition to the United States because of their advocating the interests of the Russian Federation,” the senators said.

“This behaviour along with the influencing of the whole process seriously threatens the position of the Czech Republic within its security structures as well as trust in the rule of law and political stability in the country,” the committee agreed.

It called Zeman’s public statements about BIS and Novichok “a gesture questioning the foreign political course of the state and the trustworthiness of its allies that helps spread the mendacious accusation of the Czech Republic by the Russian Federation.”

The opposition Mayors and Independents (STAN) movement turned to constitutional lawyers over this activity of Zeman to assess the possibility to sue him on suspicion of treason.

However, representatives of other parties told CTK that they did not consider the president’s step a treason.

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