Oct 22, 2021
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In spite of Russia to freeze ears. Why is Prague changing its relationship with Moscow?

The Czech Republic wants to reconsider relations with Russia and adopt their own “Magnitsky law” following the example of the American authorities. This is stated in the draft program of the new ruling coalition, which came to power after the parliamentary elections. The new authorities can start supplying weapons to Ukraine and withdraw the Czech Republic from the Nord Stream 2 project.

What do the Czech authorities want?

A member of the working group preparing the program of the new ruling coalition told reporters that the Czech Republic wants to reconsider relations with Russia. Martin Dvorak… On October 8-9, parliamentary elections were held in the Czech Republic, in which the coalition of liberal forces “Together” won (it won 27% of the votes). To form a government, the liberal coalition began negotiations with other parties: the Pirate Party and the Headsters Together movement. The parties are now discussing a common program. One of the key points of its foreign policy part will be the revision of relations with Russia and China, Dvorak noted. Among other things, the new authorities are going to adopt their own “Magnitsky law”.

The draft new government program emphasizes “commitment to the principles of foreign policy laid down by the first President of the Czech Republic Vaclav Havel“. Prague is now going to focus on the fight for human rights worldwide. It also underlines the commitment to NATO and EU membership. Close cooperation is planned to develop with Germany and Israel, and defense spending is planned to be increased to 2% of GDP, Martin Dvořák said.

Who is behind the new program?

This situation has developed, among other things, thanks to the views of the leader of “Together”, the main candidate for the post of Prime Minister of the country. Peter Fiala… He has repeatedly criticized the previous government for being “too soft” towards Russia. At the same time, relations between Russia and the Czech Republic are going through the worst times since the collapse of the USSR. They especially worsened when, in April 2021, Prague accused Russia of bombing an ammunition depot in Vrbetica. Recall that the Czech authorities said that the explosions could have been organized by the GRU Petrov and Boshirov… However, the evidence was never provided, and the president of the country Milos Zeman and even stated that there was no such evidence.

Fiala criticized Zeman for advocating the lifting of sanctions, calling the annexation of Crimea a fait accompli, meeting with Vladimir Putin and even tried to persuade Czech businessmen to do business with Russia. In his campaign speeches, the most likely candidate for prime minister promised to expand sanctions against Russia, legalize arms supplies to Ukraine and even withdraw from the Nord Stream 2 project.

Can the Czech Republic harm Russia?

Relations between Russia and the Czech Republic have been deteriorating for years. Commemorating the scandal with the demolition of the monument to the Marshal in Prague Konev… In May 2021, the Czech authorities did not allow Rosatom to participate in the tender for the construction of a reactor for the Dukovany nuclear power plant worth 6 billion euros. In Russia, this decision was called “non-market and politically biased”. The countries managed to exchange expulsions of diplomats. In Moscow, the Czech Republic was even included in the list of unfriendly countries. Recall that now there are only two countries on this list: the Czech Republic and the United States. They are prohibited from hiring Russian citizens to work in embassies, which complicates the functioning of diplomatic missions.

Demolition of the monument to Marshal Ivan Konev in Prague.

Experts believe that Russian-Czech relations are not in store for anything good. “Relations between Russia and the Czech Republic are now at their lowest level in the last thirty years,” says a professor at Charles University in Prague. Karel Svoboda… – Whoever heads our government, they will not become warmer. It will be good if we keep at least the technical contacts of the diplomatic missions. The explosions in Vbretitsa will, at best, fade into the background. But there is a demand in society for a final investigation, so there is no need to expect positive dynamics. ”

“The Czech Republic is, of course, a unique country. To what extent was it necessary to behave inappropriately for our Foreign Ministry, which is usually extremely soft even with our old opponents, to include this country on the list of unfriendly countries along with the United States? However, what the Czech authorities are doing fully justifies such steps, ”says President of the Return Foundation, political scientist Yuri Bondarenko

To make statements that the country is going to abandon Nord Stream 2 when Western Europe is on the verge of a gas crisis and a difficult winter is an absolutely irresponsible behavior, divorced from real life, the expert said. “The question arises: is the new Czech leadership working in the interests of its people? Rather, this is not the behavior of patriots of the Czech Republic, but of “green card patriots” (a residence permit in the United States – approx., – says Bondarenko. – You have to understand that the Czech academic environment, from which the leaders of the liberal parties that have now won the elections, have been brought up for years on a Russophobic ideology. The Americans did a lot so that the educational programs of universities in Eastern European countries were built on criticism of Russia. Now we see the fruits of this policy. ”

However, for Russia the consequences of the unfriendly Czech policy are unlikely to be significant. “Refusal from Nord Stream 2 will harm not us, but them. All the same, Prague will have to take gas from somewhere, and, most likely, they will buy the same Russian gas, only from third countries at higher prices. The Czech Republic is unable to impose serious sanctions against us, ”Yuriy Bondarenko believes.

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