Prague, May 4 (CTK) – President Milos Zeman assists Russian propaganda, Czech right-wing parties’ representatives said on Friday in reaction to Zeman’s statement that the Novichok nerve poison that was used to attack former Russian agent Sergei Skripal in Britain in March, was produced in the Czech Republic last year.
The only politicians to back Zeman are Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) chairman Tomio Okamura and Communist (KSCM) chairman Vojtech Filip.
Zeman’s statements are not in the interest of either the Czech Republic or its security, Civic Democrat (ODS) chairman Petr Fiala said.
Mayors and Independents (STAN) chairman Petr Gazdik said Zeman behaves as an active agent of the Kremlin.
“They must be really proud of our president in the Kremlin,” ODS deputy chairman Martin Kupka wrote on social networks, adding that Zeman’s words enable to create various conspiracy theories.
Okamura said on the contrary, the West’s previous lying about Russia as the only country to produce and test similar poisons was wrong.
“If the president [Zeman] challenged this lie, he acted in harmony with his mission as president,” Okamura wrote to CTK.
“We cannot approach the truth by denying it if it is unpleasant for Brussels or Russophobes,” Okamura added.
Filip said Zeman’s statements have calmed down the Czech public, who learnt the truth that Novichok was tested in the Czech Republic but could not be used anywhere because it was liquidated.
“Apart from the Czech public, this will definitely also calm down foreign intelligence services,” Filip added.
Pirate MP Jan Lipavsky said Zeman uses intelligence service reports to pick out information he needs. “The Russian official propaganda distorts it further ad absurdum. I will ask for secret services’ representatives to be invited to a meeting of the lower house foreign committee,” said Lipavsky, who is the committee’s deputy head.
Zeman’s statement on Thursday about a small-scale production of Novichok in Czechia was used by Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on Friday as an argument in support of Moscow’s assertion that the British government has been lying in the case of the poison attack on Skripal and his daughter.
Zakharova said, cited by the Russian news agency TASS, that British PM Theresa May’s allegation about Novichok having been produced only in Russia has been refuted by the Czech president, who confirmed that his country did produce this poisonous substance.
Gazdik emphasised Zeman’s words that Czech intelligence services differ on whether Novichok was produced in the country. Zeman, nevertheless, preferred the variant playing into the hands of Russia, Gazdik said.
“In doing so, he denied the statement of the [Czech] foreign minister. After all, the pro-Kremlin Russia Today [TV] noticed Zeman’s statement immediately last night. Is all this just a coincidence? We can view Milos Zeman as an active agent of the Kremlin,” Gazdik said.
TOP 09 deputies’ group chairman Miroslav Kalousek wrote on Twitter that many show interest in Zeman. “Chinese investors use him to secure their links to the Kremlin. Russians use him to do their mendacious propaganda. We have him to bring permanent shame on us,” Kalousek said.
Social Democrat (CSSD) chairman Jan Hamacek told CTK that he considers a key aspect of Zeman’s statement that the Czech-made substance was similar, not identical with the substance with which the Skripals were attacked in Salisbury.
“As a result, the Czech Republic cannot be mentioned as a country from which the applied substance could come,” Hamacek said.
Former foreign minister Lubomir Zaoralek (CSSD) told CTK that the Czech Republic specialises in helping victims of chemical weapons of mass destruction, which is why it must be able to work with such substances.
“If Russia mentioned this competence of ours in connection with the Salisbury attack, it did so within its strategy of stirring information chaos and covering up evidence. We should never assist in this,” Zaoralek said.
Zeman based his statement on the Czech Military Intelligence’s (VZ) report saying that the nerve-paralysing substance A230, which the Military Research Institute in Brno produced for testing purposes last year, is Novichok.
On the contrary, the counter-intelligence service (BIS) came to the conclusion that the substance was not Novichok, Zeman admitted and added that after studying the two secret services’ reports, he shares the view presented by the VZ.
“There is the conclusion that Novichok was produced and tested here, though in a small quantity and then it was destroyed,” Zeman said.
“It is hypocritical to pretend that this was not so,” he added.
The New York Times daily has cited Ahmet Uzumcu, head of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) as saying that up to 100 grammes of Novichok was used to attack the Skripals, while far lower amounts are produced for research purposes.