Disinfo: The claims of Czech authorities about the 2014 Vrbětice explosion are false, anti-Russian propaganda

Summary

The claims of Czech intelligence services about the 2014 Vrbětice explosion are highly untrustworthy. Russia had no logical reasons to organise something like this. The Czech police themselves closed the case as an accident and we are supposed to – without any evidence – say that it was the Russian Federation? Russia had no motive, if they knew about its existence, they could have simply informed the authorities. It all seems just like propaganda of Russophobes.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative dismissing any allegations of Moscow's malign activity abroad as "Russophobic."

The role of the GRU Unit 29155 in the 2014 Vrbětice explosion has already been established and comparisons to “war propaganda” are thus unfounded.

Czech authorities announced on 17 April 2021 that the Czech intelligence services have serious reasons to believe Russian GRU was involved in the 2014 Vrbětice explosion. The investigation established beyond doubt that GRU agents Anatoly Chepiga and Alexander Mishkin, the same individuals considered responsible for the attempted murder of Sergey Skripal in Salisbury in 2018, were behind the explosion in an ammunition storage depot in the Czech location of Vrbetice in 2014, which killed two people.

According to investigators, an email supposedly from the National Guard of Tajikistan had requested permission for two individuals - ”Ruslan Tabarov” from Tajikistan and “Nicolaj Popa” from Moldova - to visit the storage site and included the scanned image of two false passports with the pictures of both men. The images of “Tabarov” and “Popa” matched those of Chepiga and Mishkin.

Prague's findings were independently corroborated by a joint investigation conducted by Bellingcat, The Insider (Russia), Der Spiegel (Germany), and Respekt.cz (Czech Republic). Bellingcat announced already in 2020 that members of Unit 29155 were present in Czechia during the period when a large arms depot exploded in northern Moravia.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 242
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 20/04/2021
  • Article language(s) Czech, Georgian
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Russia, Czech Republic
  • Keywords: Vrbetice explosion, GRU, Russophobia
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Disinfo: Czech allegations against Russia aim to overshadow failed attempt on Lukashenka's life

The US State Department immediately declared that they are not involved in any plot to make an attempt on [Lukashenka's life]. That is, they are not denying the conspiracy itself but only declared that they are not involved. However, who is going to believe the Americans now? In an absolutely similar manner, they were denying their involvement in the coup attempts in Venezuela and in the attempt on Maduro's life.

The US pretends that nothing has happened and the case of the detained US citizen is planned to be dealt with as normal. However, judging by the events that immediately took place in Czechia, the United States admitted its failure. The thing is that Czechia, all of a sudden, announced that military warehouses on its territory were blown up by Russians back in 2014. This whole story is meant to serve as a cover-up for the failed coup d'etat in Belarus.

Disproof

An unsubstantiated claim about the explosion of an ammunition depot in Czechia in 2014, attempting to ridicule the revelations about GRU's involvement as an 'American attempt to cover a failed attempt on Lukashenka's life'. The second claim is also not supported by any evidence.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and the temporary Minister of Foreign Affairs Jan Hamáček announced on 17 April 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." According to Mr Babiš, the first discussions around the GRU’s involvement took place on the 7th of April 2021.

Disinfo: The escalation in Donbas is part of a US destabilisation pattern in post-Soviet states

The US wants to divide the Eurasian alliance by encircling Russia as much as possible. How to do it? By looking for a provocation, activating the Donbass conflict and throwing gasoline on the flames, which may get out of control [...]. The US is decided to put Russia in a disastrous situation throughout the post-Soviet environment: war between Azerbaijan and Armenia, the coup in Kyrgyzstan, the coup in Belarus, the government change and pressure over Moldova, the harassment of Nord Stream 2, the mermaid songs that we are hearing towards Georgia. It is all about encircling and setting up a provocation, while the West only points to the other side as the threat. The US states it clearly in its documents, for example in “Overextending and Unbalancing Russia” of the RAND Corporation.

Disproof

This is a mix of several recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives about encircling Russia, popular protests as the result of Western-led colour revolutions and Russia as the ultimate target of international events. In this case, these narratives aim to blame the West for the recent escalation in Donbas, exempting Russia of any responsibility for its military buildup in the Ukrainian border.

Contrary to the claim, the escalation of tensions is not due to any US or Western provocation. Moscow-backed separatists have been mounting tensions in Donbas over the recent weeks under the pretext that Ukrainian troops are planning an offensive. Four Ukrainian soldiers were killed on 26 March 2021, which is the largest daily death toll for government troops since the fragile truce that took effect July 2020.

Disinfo: The West ignored the murder of a 6-year old child in a Ukrainian bombing in Donbas

These are the values of the West: an attack by Kyiv in Donbas killed a 6-year old child and the West did not comment. Neither the executors of the attack nor their Western backers minded that one of the victims was this child. A statement by the French and German foreign ministers Jean-Yves Le Drian and Heiko Maas didn’t mention this, it only showed their concern by the escalation of the conflict and its support to Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and denounced Russia for moving troops inside Russian territory.

The death, or rather the murder, of this innocent child is already being investigated by the UN, while the incident has been silenced by the media.

Disproof

This is a deliberate disinformation narrative about the Ukrainian army and the West, without a factual basis. While it is true that on April 6, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine confirmed the death of a child “due to blast trauma and shrapnel wounds”, according to research by Russian and Ukrainian journalists who investigated the incident his death was not the result of a bombing by the Ukrainian army but an accident with explosives or old ammunition,.

Pro-Kremlin disinformation outlets such as RT German had initially spread information that a child allegedly died as a result of a Ukrainian drone attack in the NGCA [Non-Government-controlled-area] of Donbas, in the village of Oleksandrivske. The claim about a drone bombing was debunked by military expert Oleksandr Kovalenko, who wrote that an unmanned aircraft could not reach Oleksandrivske because the distance from the village to the government-controlled territory is about 30 kilometres. Then, the narrative in these pro-Kremlin disinformation pieces in Spanish language ignored the alleged presence of a drone and shifted the claim towards a generic “bombing” of unspecified origin.