Czech PM blames Prague arson attack on Russia, claims 'hybrid war'

Petr Fiala has said that the man behind an attack on the bus garage of the Prague Transport Company last week operated for the Russian state. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 11.06.2024 10:10:00 (updated on 11.06.2024) Reading time: 2 minutes

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala has stated that Russia likely organized and financed a recent arson attack on a bus garage in Prague. Fiala, along with other government officials, believe this attack is part of a larger "hybrid war" against which Czechia must defend itself.

According to Interior Minister Vít Rakušan, similar attacks may be planned across Europe, with Czechia being a potential target once more. Rakušan stated: "We were used to Russian attacks being mostly hybrid, concentrated on IT infrastructure. Now we are getting to the stage where it may involve physical objects as well."

Police have remanded a 26-year-old man from Latin America – he could face a life sentence for terror charges. The Czech Police quickly investigated the attack that occurred last Thursday night in Prague-Klíčov and arrested the suspect on Saturday morning.

Police President Martin Vondrášek stated: "All I can say is that I appreciate the alert response from the transport company's staff." The suspect, who arrived in Czechia just five days before the attack, is believed to have been planning a larger act of sabotage.

The Prague transport company confirmed the damage to the buses, estimated at CZK 200,000, and stated that employees quickly extinguished the fire with a fire extinguisher.

Nefarious influence from Russia

The Czech counter-intelligence service BIS has received information about the activities of Russian intelligence services trying to recruit individuals outside of Russia to carry out attacks in exchange for money. BIS also stated that other countries have received similar information and that the goal is to "destabilize, create fear, and distrust among citizens."

Despite this recent attack, Vondrášek confirmed that Czechia is not currently facing another specific security risk. However, security measures have been tightened in Prague over the weekend. Fiala praised the work of the security forces, stating that they did an "exceptionally good and professional job."

This attack comes after a series of incidents throughout Europe – a May fire in Warsaw and an arson attack on a Lithuanian department store – with Fiala linking them to other cases where the involvement of Russian secret services is suspected. The Czech Republic has been under a level-one terror threat since 2016, and the cabinet recently decided to strengthen security measures until the end of September. Vondrášek stated that the police currently consider these measures to be sufficient.

Russia was also behind the 2014 Vrbětice ammunition warehouse attacks in Czechia that killed two people.

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