Czech media names Russian suspected in poisoning attempt of Prague officials

The man, whom the Czech special services suspect of delivering ricin poison to Prague to poison municipal politicians, is Andrei K., reports Seznam Spravy. According to Seznam Spravy, the man leads the "diplomatic representation of one of the Russian federal agencies" in the republic.

On April 26, the newspaper Respekt reported that a Russian man with a diplomatic passport arrived in the Czech Republic carrying ricin. The newspaper claimed, citing its sources, that the man wanted to poison the head of the administration of Prague 6 district, Ondřej Kolář, who organized the dismantling of the monument to Marshal Ivan Konev in early April, as well as the mayor of the Czech capital, Zdeněk Hřib.

According to Seznam Spravy, in the last two months the police and the Security Information Service (BIS) of the Czech Republic became interested in the man. The publication does not give the full name of the person but notes that his name is known and was obtained from the country’s security services. As the Russian news outlet, The Insider, writes with reference to the Czech TV channel CT1, the person is Andrei Konchakov, who is the acting head of the Russian Cooperation Mission in the Czech Republic.

According to Czech media, Andrei K. arrived in Prague on March 14. The Czech Security services believe the man was carrying a suitcase containing a "lethal substance" that day. Seznam reported, citing sources, that Czech security services were warned about this, but they did not stop the Russian at the airport out of fear that his detention could be used as "part of a disinformation campaign." At the airport, the man was met by the driver Alexander A. who took him to the Russian Embassy, Seznam writes. It is noted that the special services consider the driver an employee of the FSB.

The Insider, citing CT1, writes that since the arrival of the Russian diplomat in Prague, Kolář and Hřib had been put under the police protection. According to Seznam, on April 6, the Czech Security Services warned the police that there was an "agent who poses a threat to the security" of Czech officials. The Russian has not been formally charged and is still in Prague.

Andrei K. himself denied in a conversation with Seznam correspondent that he had brought poison to Prague. "It must have been a mistake, I was carrying a disinfectant and candy in my suitcase," he said. The man also stated that he could not give an official interview without Moscow’s approval and asked to send him questions by email.

The BIS believes that Andrei K. is an employee of the Russian special services. According to the BIS, he has been working in the Czech Republic for many years, but only for the last two years in a diplomatic position, Seznam reports. The man was born in Moscow and graduated from the National Nuclear Research University, the newspaper writes. After that, he started working in Rossotrudnichestvo (The Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States, Compatriots Living Abroad and International Humanitarian Cooperation) and headed the Russian Center for Science and Culture in Prague, The Insider notes.

Eleanor Mitrofanova, the head of Rossotrudnichestvo, told RIA Novosti that the Czech media reports that the alleged acting head of Rossotrudnichestvo in Prague brought poison to the country was a provocation. According to her, such unsubstantiated accusations are intended to increase the negative reaction to the situation around the demolition of the monument to Soviet Marshal Ivan Konev.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called the Respekt’s article about the Russian poisoner a fake and called on European authorities to pay attention to it. Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Russian president, said the Kremlin was not aware of the investigation and called the publication's material a "newspaper fake." The Russian Embassy in the Czech Republic sent a note of protest to the country's Foreign Ministry, but the ministry deemed it "inappropriate."

  Marshal Konev, Czech Republic, Russia


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