DISINFO: Czech Republic's accusations about Kremlin involvement in Vrbětice explosions are part of Russophobic campaign
  • Outlet: it.sputniknews.com (archived)*
  • Date of publication: May 16, 2021
  • Article language(s): Italian
  • Reported in: Issue 245
  • Countries / regions discussed: Russia, Czech Republic
GRU Russophobia Anti-Russian Vrbetice explosion

DISINFO: Czech Republic's accusations about Kremlin involvement in Vrbětice explosions are part of Russophobic campaign


The Czech Republic's unfounded accusations about Kremlin involvement in the Vrbětice explosions are part of a vast Russophobic campaign promoted by the West.


Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative that labels any Western accusations against the Kremlin’s unacceptable international behaviour as factually unfounded and driven by Russophobia, even if such accusations are supported by clear evidence.

In October and December 2014, two explosions occurred in ammunition depots at a former army complex of warehouses and factories in the small town of Vrbětice, near the border with Slovakia.

Investigations into the events, led the Czech intelligence services, in April 2021, to reveal without any doubt Russia's involvement in the events. Czech authorities discovered that the names of two Russian men involved in the explosions are the same ones involved in the attempted murder on British soil of Sergey Skripal in 2018.

Czech police said the pair had travelled to the Czech Republic in October 2014 under the same cover identities, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, as they used in the UK in 2018. According to investigators, an email supposedly from the National Guard of Tajikistan had requested permission for “Ruslan Tabarov” from Tajikistan and “Nicolaj Popa” from Moldova, to visit the Czech storage site. The scanned image images of Tabarov’s and Popa’s false passports matched those of Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov. The two men turned out to be Anatoly Chepiga and Alexander Mishkin, two GRU (Russian military intelligence) that work in the GRU’s notorious Unit 29155.

Unit 29155 has been linked not only to the Skripal case, but also to an alleged coup attempt in Montenegro and a murder in Bulgaria and has been investigated and reported on widely in the international media. Prague's findings were also independently corroborated by a joint investigation conducted by Bellingcat, The Insider (Russia), Der Spiegel (Germany), and Respekt.cz (Czech Republic).

Following the announcement of Russia's involvement by the Czech authorities, 18 Russian diplomats believed to be Russian intelligence officials were expelled from the Czechia. Pro-Kremlin outlets, according to analysts who monitor online disinformation, responded with a massive disinformation campaign to ridicule and discredit the Czech government’s account of what happened in Vrbětice.

The Kremlin’s weaponization of Russophobia narratives has been detailed in several EU vs Disinfo reports. Read similar cases claiming that anti-Russian campaign is the real reason behind the expulsion of Russian diplomats from Czechia, that allegations of Russian role in Vrbětice explosion are part of informational preparation for new Cold war, and that the claim that Russia was involved in the 2014 Vrbětice explosion is a lie


Related disinfo cases


Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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