Czechia files lawsuit against Russia over illegal property use

According to the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Russia uses the rent-free buildings for non-diplomatic purposes. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 26.07.2023 13:53:00 (updated on 26.07.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

The Diplomatic Service, part of the Czech Foreign Affairs Ministry, has filed a lawsuit against Russia for unjust enrichment related to Russia's use of land in Czechia for purposes other than diplomacy. According to the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Russia has allegedly gained over CZK 53 million unjustly in the past three years through its use of land for non-diplomatic purposes.

An issue dating back to Soviet times

In the 1970s and 1980s, the Czech government allowed the Soviet Union to use certain plots of land for diplomatic purposes free of charge. However, the Czech government recently revoked nine of these resolutions. 

Consequently, the Czech Foreign Ministry is now demanding lease payments from Russia for the use of these properties. The land includes plots with apartment buildings on Schwaigerova Street in Prague, as well as the former seats of Russian consulates in Karlovy Vary and Brno.

Czech-Russian diplomatic relations became much tenser in 2021, when Czech intelligence agencies revealed Russia's involvement in the 2014 ammunition warehouse blasts in Vrbětice, South Moravia. This led to a reduction in the number of diplomats at both the Russian embassy in Prague and the Czech embassy in Moscow.

Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the number of Russian diplomats in the Czech Republic was further reduced. As a result, some of the Russian diplomatic buildings are now being used for commercial purposes.

Foreign Affairs Minister Jan Lipavský earlier confirmed that the Diplomatic Service filed a lawsuit against the Russian Federation with the Municipal Court in Prague. "We have taken this step because we have not received any response to the pre-action notice," Lipavský added.

Russia has too many buildings

Lipavský previously noted that the substantially smaller Russian diplomatic mission in Czechia could not possibly use all of the buildings in Czechia for diplomatic purposes. Some of them are used for commercial purposes, according to the Foreign Ministry. Russia has repeatedly objected to the buildings’ removal, claiming that the country has full rights to them and that they are being used appropriately.  

In May this year, a Prague court dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Foreign Ministry that demanded retroactive payment of the rent for a plot in Prague's Stodůlky neighborhood, where the then-Soviet Union built a complex of houses based on a contract from 1980.

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