Dozens Of Russian Diplomats Leave Czech Republic Amid Strained Relations

Czech diplomats expelled from Russia arrive at Vaclav Havel Airport in Prague on April 19.  

MOSCOW — Dozens of Russian diplomats and their families have left the Czech Republic after Prague ordered their expulsion in April.

A flight carrying 54 Russian Embassy employees and their families left Prague on May 29 for Moscow, according to the Russian state news agency TASS. In all, Prague has ordered 63 diplomats to leave the country.

The remaining Russian diplomats are expected to leave the Czech Republic on May 31.

It was the largest expulsion of diplomats in the history of relations between the two countries.

The diplomatic row began in April, when the Czech government accused Russian intelligence agents of carrying out two explosions at a military arms depot in the eastern part of the Czech Republic in October 2014. Two Czech citizens were killed in those explosions, which Prague says were aimed at destroying munitions that had been sold to Ukraine.

At the time, Prague ordered the expulsion of 18 Russian diplomats, saying they had used their diplomatic status as a cover for intelligence work. Moscow responded by expelling 20 Czech diplomats.

On April 22, the two sides agreed that their diplomatic representations would be brought to strict parity, with each mission comprising seven diplomats and 25 technical employees.

By the end of May, the Czech Republic must dismiss 79 Russian citizens who have been working for the Czech diplomatic mission in Russia.

The Russian government on May 14 officially declared the Czech Republic and the United States to be "unfriendly" states.

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