Disinfo: Czech-Russian diplomatic row was staged to target Rosatom and deflect attention from a coup attempt in Belarus

Summary

There are three rationales behind the story about the alleged Russian involvement in the depot explosion in the Czech Republic in 2014. First, it is meant to deflect attention from the coup attempt in Belarus and accusations against the US of an assassination attempt against Alexander Lukashenko.

Second, it has to do with the Czech intention to purchase Sputnik V vaccines, which already resulted in the dismissal of the Czech government.

Third, to interrupt the participation of Rosatom in the Czech nuclear tender. As a successful and reputable Russian company, Rosatom has been the target of [Western] attacks.

Disproof

The claim is part of an emerging pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative surrounding the 2014 fatal explosion at an ammo depot in Vrbetice, Czechia and the suspected role of Russia's GRU agency in the incident.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and the temporary Minister of Foreign Affairs Jan Hamáček announced on 17 April 2021 that the Czech intelligence services collected evidence demonstrating Russian involvement in the 2014 Vrbětice explosion. More specifically, it implicates Unit 29155, a division of Russia's GRU agency previously linked to "assassination attempts and other subversive actions across Europe."

Prague identified the intelligence officers, and demanded they leave the country over links to an explosion at a privately-operated arms depot in 2014.

Regarding the claims about Lukashenko, no evidence is yet provided (as of April 30, 2021) to support the claims about the alleged US-backed coup attempt.

Read similar cases claiming that the West aims to intensify its campaign against the Sputnik V vaccine, that the EU has been deliberately breaking relations with Russia, and that alleged poisonings of Skripal and Navalny were Western provocations against Russia.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 242
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 21/04/2021
  • Article language(s) Russian
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Czech Republic, Russia, Belarus, US
  • Keywords: Rosatom, Conspiracy theory, Sputnik V, Coup, Alexander Lukashenko, Vrbetice explosion
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