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Černínský palác - Giving Tuesday
Photo: © M. Trnková, MZV ČR
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Russia complies with Czech demands, reducing the number of staff at its embassy in Prague


In response to the findings on the involvement of members of the Russian intelligence services in the explosion at the ammunition depot in Vrbětice, the Czech Republic proceeded to expel 18 members of the staff of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Prague. Their activities were incompatible with those of diplomatic staff under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. The Russian Federation reacted disproportionately and, as a result, made it impossible for the Czech diplomatic mission in Russia to function fully. The Czech Republic has therefore decided to adjust the permitted number of staff of the Russian Embassy in Prague in accordance with Article 11 of the Vienna Convention. The Russians complied with the Czech requirements and within the set deadline.

On 19 April 2021, the Czech Republic decided to expel 18 employees of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Prague in accordance with Article 9 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. "This measure did not permanently reduce the number of members of the diplomatic mission of the Russian Federation in the Czech Republic," stressed Minister of Foreign Affairs Jakub Kulhánek (ČSSD).

This was followed by a disproportionate response from Russia, which not only led to the expulsion of a larger number of Czech diplomats in Moscow, but also caused serious and critical complications in the functioning of the Czech Embassy in Moscow. "On 22 April 2021, the Czech Republic adjusted the number of employees of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Czech Republic according to the parity principle in accordance with Article 11 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and set this number at the same level in Moscow, i.e. seven members of the diplomatic staff and 25 members of the administrative and technical staff," Minister Kulhánek said. The Russians were given time to adjust the number of staff in their embassy in the Czech Republic by the end of May. "I can state that the deadline has been met," Minister Kulhánek said. The staff numbers of the consulates of the Russian Federation in Brno and Karlovy Vary remain unchanged, as do the numbers of Czech representatives at the consulates in St. Petersburg and Ekaterinburg.

To reduce tensions, the Czech Republic calls on the Russian Federation to refrain from designating the Czech Republic (and other states) as a country that is taking hostile measures against the Russian Federation and to repeal the related measures. "Without this step, we can hardly return to standard diplomatic communication and start thinking about complete normalisation of mutual relations," Minister Kulhánek added. "It is worth recalling that we consider the steps related to the creation of a list of 'unfriendly countries' to be in conflict with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations."

As for the issue of the high school at the Russian Embassy in Prague, the Czech Republic is not interested in terminating its activities. However, we are of the opinion that the situation has not been in line with international law for a long time. The school operated as part of the Russian embassy at a time when it provided services not only to embassy staff, but also to the public. Hence, schooling does not fall under the function of a diplomatic mission. "From the beginning, we drew the Russian side's attention to the need to seek a solution in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and thus meet all the conditions required by the Czech legal system," Minister Kulhánek said. "It is therefore a matter of the Russian school functioning like other foreign schools in the Czech Republic. There is nothing to prevent appropriate steps being taken during the summer holidays so that the school can start a new school year. Whether this will happen, however, is entirely up to the Russian side."