Prague, May 16 (CTK) – The director of the Military Research Institute (VVU), Bohuslav Safar, was sacked for many internal reasons, Defence Minister Karla Slechtova (ANO) told journalists on Wednesday, but she declined to elaborate.
The chairman of the Senate defence committee, Frantisek Bublan (Social Democrats, CSSD), said Safar’s dismissal had not been connected with the Novichok scandal, although Prime Minister Andrej Babis criticised Safar over his statements in it.
President Milos Zeman has referred to Safar in connection with his own statement that Novichok really was produced in the Czech Republic. This was dismissed by other representatives of the Czech Republic.
Slechtova said Safar had been dismissed for many reasons she would not disclose to the media since they were connected with the link between the VVU and the Defence Ministry that was its administrator.
“I have used the chance of not giving any reason because the VVU is also our supplier. We, too, [the Defence Ministry] give it some commissions,” Slechtova said.
She said Safar had asked to stay in the VVU and that she complied with the request.
When Moscow said the Czech Republic may have been the originator of Novichok, Safar said poisonous substances were produced in the Czech Republic solely for laboratory purposes to test their properties and in a very small amount of some grammes only.
Safar said since only grammes were involved, this was no production, but “laboratory preparation of a small amount” for the testing of its qualities.
Novichok poison was used against former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain in March.
Babis said Safar’s statement had been unfortunate and it could have caused a misunderstanding with Zeman.