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Czech police conclude Russian agents behind deadly 2014 ammunition depot blasts

by Martin Fornusek April 29, 2024 3:07 PM 2 min read
An aerial shot of a burning ammunition depot in 2014 in Vrbetice, Czechia. (Fire Department of the Zlin region)
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Russian military intelligence operatives were responsible for deadly ammunition depot explosions in Czechia in 2014, the Czech police said on April 29 following a three-year-long investigation.

The Czech authorities announced back in 2021 that they had received evidence of Russian involvement in the explosions that killed two people in the eastern town of Vrbetice in October and December 2014.

Prague subsequently expelled 18 Russian diplomats who were identified as spies.

"The law enforcement agency can confirm that the explosions of both ammunition depots were carried out by members of the Russian military intelligence agency... also known as the GRU," the Czech police said in a press release.

The goal of the Russian operatives was to "prevent arms and ammunition deliveries to areas where the Russian military was active," the statement read.

Media reports emerged in 2021 that the ammunition was supposed to be transferred either to Ukraine or to Syria, reportedly for the Syrian opposition battling the regime of Bashar al-Assad, an ally of Russia. The company that owned the supplies disputed these claims.

The police did not name the suspects but said that they had belonged to the notorious GRU Unit 29155, associated with assassinations and destabilization operations outside of Russia.

The Czech media outlet Seznam Zpravy wrote in 2021 that law enforcement agencies suspected Alexander Mishkin and Anatoliy Chepiga of carrying out the bombings. The two operatives are also believed to be responsible for the attempted assassination of Russian defector Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the U.K. in 2018.

The Czech police said it did not press charges and postponed further steps, as the suspected perpetrators are under Russia's protection.

Moscow has denied involvement in the explosions.

Bulgaria issues warrants for 6 Russians accused of arms warehouses’ explosions
The six suspects, whose name was not mentioned, are accused of involvement in the 2011 explosion in blast at EMCO Emilian Gebrev’s facility Lovnidol, two successive blasts at the IMZ-Sopot facility in Iganovo in 2015, and another one at the Arsenal plant near Muglizh in 2020.
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