Russian embassy 'ketchup bandits' hit with reprimand for April incident

Prague authorities have meted out reprimends to those who defaced the Russian embassy following revelations about the 2014 Vrbětice explosions.

ČTK

Written by ČTK Published on 21.10.2021 13:35 (updated on 21.10.2021) Reading time: 1 minute

Prague, Oct 20 (CTK) - Prague 6 Town Hall has meted out reprimands to three people who splattered the Russian embassy in Prague with ketchup as a protest in April. The involvement of two other people in the incident has not yet been proven.

None of the people reprimanded challenged the decision. The ketchup incident occurred in April, in response to revelations about the Vrbětice blasts in 2014, for which the Czech counter-intelligence service (BIS) believes Russian secret agents were responsible. Two explosions at the ammunition depot in South Moravia claimed two lives.

The loss of these lives led the protestors at the Russian embassy to choose ketchup, symbolizing blood, they told police.

Six people were detained in connection with the ketchup incident. Subsequently, the police investigated five of them on suspicion of committing a misdemeanour and the case was handed over to the jurisdiction of Prague 6, where the embassy is located.

The case against two people was shelved when a legal analysis said they did not commit any misdemeanour. The other three people were given an administrative punishment in the form of a reprimand.

Outgoing Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) announced in April that the Czech security services have grounds to believe members of the Russian GRU military intelligence unit were involved in the Vrbětice blasts.

Simultaneously, the Czech National Organised Crime Centre (NČOZ) announced that it was looking for two people with Russian passports who stayed in Prague, Moravia-Silesia, and the Zlin Region in October 2014.

Russia has denied the allegations. The ensuing diplomatic rift intensified when Prague expelled 18 Russian embassy workers, identified as intelligence officers, in reaction to the Vrbětice affair, while Russia retaliated by expelling 20 workers at the Czech embassy in Moscow.

Russia also designated the Czech Republic as an enemy state on a list which also includes the USA.

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