DISINFO: Czechia targets Russia in Vrbetice case to distract attention from incompetence
Czech authorities are not only incapable of conducting objective investigations but they are also incapable of adding a kind of logical chain to the ongoing mess in their country. The best Prague could have come up with was to put the entire blame on Russia, the notorious "enemy".
The case above is part of a wider disinformation campaign about the events around the Vrbětice explosion in 2014 and the expulsion of Russian diplomats from the Czech Republic in April 2021 after the involvement of Russian state actors was established by Czech authorities.
The disinformation narrative also fits into the recurring claims of Russophobia, that is, the standard response by pro-Kremlin media outlets when Western countries raise a politically conflictual issue.
Accordingly, the pro-Kremlin campaign follows a similar pattern to others launched after notorious incidents, such as the downing of the MH17 flight or the poisonings of Sergei Skripal and Alexei Navalny, including official denials despite compelling evidence, spreading of multiple and often contradictory versions and speculation about sinister motives or conspiracies behind the accusations. Through these campaigns, the disinformation narratives aim to deflect any Russian responsibility for the incident and exempt Russia from any wrongdoing.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and the acting 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. Prague's findings were independently corroborated by a joint investigation conducted by Bellingcat, The Insider (Russia), Der Spiegel (Germany), and Respekt.cz (Czechia).
Pro-Kremlin media actors have built an extensive disinformation campaign around the Vrbetice explosions and the subsequent revelations of Kremlin involvement. Explore earlier cases on the subject here.