Czechs protest pro-Russian president, accuse him of treason

PRAGUE (AP) – Thousands of Czechs rallied in the capital on Thursday against President Milos Zeman, accusing the pro-Russian leader of treason over the alleged involvement of Russian spies in a massive ammunition explosion in 2014 in the Czech Republic.

Protesters, who wore face masks and followed social distancing rules, dispersed across central Wenceslas Square in Prague. Other gatherings were held in dozens of cities across the country.

They called on the upper house of the Czech Parliament, the Senate, to bring treason charges against Zeman. They said his recent comments side with Russia and cast doubt on the country’s security and intelligence findings regarding the 2014 explosion, calling it a “servant of the Kremlin” and a “security risk” for the country. the country.

The Senate has already announced that such an approach is being considered.

Czech officials said on April 17 they had evidence indicating the involvement of two agents from the Russian military spy agency in the explosion of the depot that killed two people. Russia has denied this.

The same two Russians were indicted in absentia by British authorities in 2018 for attempting to kill former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok in the English town of Salisbury.

After a week of silence, Zeman, who is known for his pro-Russian views, said on Sunday that the explosion could have been caused by human error and urged authorities to investigate the option. Government ministers said that was not true.

Unlike other lawmakers and officials briefed on the investigation, Zeman claimed there was no conclusive evidence of the Russian’s involvement. His words have been widely repeated by the media and the Russian authorities.

The other 26 countries of the European Union and NATO allies have expressed their full solidarity with the Czech Republic.

The results culminated in a serious diplomatic crisis between the Czech Republic and Russia, with dozens of diplomats ordered to leave their respective embassies.

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