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Czech Prime Minister says failed arson attack was ‘organized by Russia’

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said the failed arson attack that occurred in Prague last week was organized and funded by Russia.

Speaking after a meeting of the Czech National Security Council, Mr. Fiala said the failed attack was clearly part of a “mixed” sabotage campaign carried out by Moscow against European countries.

Police said a foreign national was arrested on Saturday in connection with the incident and is being held on terrorism charges.

He is described as “a Spanish-speaking man of South American origin” and appears to have been in the country for five days.

The prime minister said the attempt to set fire to buses at a depot in Prague could be linked to a series of arson attacks in Europe that he said appeared to be orchestrated by Moscow.

These, he said, include the May arson attack in Warsaw and a similar attack at an Ikea branch in Lithuania, which authorities believe was carried out by Russian intelligence agents or their authorized persons.

“Connectivity [to Russia] not only possible but very likely,” Mr. Fiala told reporters. “The attack was probably organized and financed by Russia.”

Police stepped up patrols across the Czech capital last Friday after a high security risk was declared.

They released CCTV footage showing a dark-haired man paying for items in a store or gas station. They said the man may be dangerous and should not be approached but did not provide further information.

Police Chief Martin Vondrasek said the man was arrested the next day. Local media reported that he poured gasoline on several buses at the depot but failed to ignite them.

β€œOn Friday, we asked the public for support. On Saturday morning, the suspect was arrested. On Sunday afternoon, a criminal prosecution was launched, and today [Monday] The court has ordered him to be detained,” Mr. Vondrasek told journalists at a press conference.

The BBC approached the Russian Foreign Ministry for comment on Mr Fiala’s allegations.

The man – described as a 26-year-old of South American origin – is accused of trying to burn down a bus at a public transport station in Prague’s Klicov district in the early hours of Thursday morning.

He now faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted under terrorism laws – 30 years if given an exemplary sentence.

Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Czech government has become one of Ukraine’s most ardent supporters, providing military support including artillery, tanks and ammunition.

However, mutual antipathy predated the February 2022 invasion.

The Prague government said Russia’s GRU intelligence agency was behind a 2014 explosion at a Czech weapons dump that killed two people.

The Czech Republic is the second country – after the US – to be placed on Russia’s list of ‘unfriendly countries’ following a series of diplomatic expulsions following an investigation into the explosion.

Moscow denies any involvement in the incident.


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