22 July 2021
For years, the Czech public was told by large domestic corporations that cooperation with authoritarian regimes was just business with no political dimension. Will the news about Russia’s intelligence service involvement in the Vrbětice Affair change a cosy relationship between Czech business elites and Putin’s inner circles?
Recent news that the GRU’s special unit is behind the 2014 explosions in the ammunition depot in Vrbětice seems to be the greatest direct revelation of the Kremlin’s covert operations inside Czechia to date. Moreover, this one involves the death of two Czechs and material losses to hundreds of other citizens.
In the past seven years, Czechs have been told that their country has been targeted by Russia’s intelligence service. However, the Czech public finds itself only now in a situation where it has become difficult to dismiss the Kremlin’s involvement in the country as something limited to politics and as of no great concern to the daily lives of citizens.
The ensuing diplomatic spat is likely to dominate the media news for the upcoming weeks. Can this be a turning point in the way the Czech public perceives ties between the Czech and Russian businesses?