Credit: Freepik

Czech Government Calls For EU To Restrict Russian Diplomats’ Movement in Schengen Area

The Czech Republic has expelled 70 Russian embassy diplomats and other staff in total. Credit: Freepik.

Prague, Nov 22 (CTK) – The Czech Republic is proposing that the EU restrict the movement of Russian diplomats within the Schengen area, the Foreign Ministry spokesman Daniel Drake told CTK yesterday. Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky argues that many espionage activities are taking place under diplomatic cover. 

The Czech proposal was previously reported by the Financial Times.

“I can confirm that such a proposal exists,” said Lipavsky (Pirates) in a statement provided to CTK by Drake. “The negotiations are not closed, so I cannot give details. I think that colleagues from European countries understand that espionage activities are a risk and it is a publicly known fact that a number of espionage activities take place under diplomatic cover.” 

The Czech Republic is demanding that Russian diplomats receive visas and residence permits that allow movement only within the host country, and not across Schengen. It also wants the EU to accept only biometric passports, which are more difficult to forge or link to false identities, according to the Financial Times report.

Many countries expelled Russian diplomats after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, though the Czech Republic had already taken this step following the Vrbetice case. It has expelled 70 Russian embassy diplomats and other staff in total; there are currently six diplomats working at the Russian embassy in Prague.

Prague expelled most of the Russian diplomats in spring 2021 due to the suspicions of Czech security forces that Russian GRU military intelligence agents had been involved in two devastating explosions in the Vrbetice arms depots in October and December 2014. The first of these explosions killed two people.

Russian diplomats can move freely in 24 of the 27 EU member states, as well as in Switzerland, Norway and Iceland, the Financial Times noted. According to their report, the Czech government proposed the measure last week during negotiations for a 12th European package of anti-Russian sanctions.

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