Tag Archives: Czech Republic

Kremlin draws unfriendly states list

Brussels 17.05.2021 The Czech Republic and the United States have been put on Russia’s blacklist of unfriendly states because of their hostile steps against Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday, May 17. (Image: Moscow, Russia, photo Evgeny Grabovsky)

Russia to judge US calls to normalization by actions, not words, top diplomat says
“Their unfriendly steps were the reason why we took a decision to even the conditions our diplomatic missions are working on in each other’s territories – ours in the Czech Republic and the United States, and, correspondingly, theirs in Russia. As a concrete step that had already been announced, we asked them to reduce their locally hired personnel, both Russian nationals and citizens of third countries, to the level of the analogous category of employees we have in our missions in the Czech Republic and the United States,” he told a news conference when answering a TASS question.

He noted that the Czech Republic was “disgracefully” trying to get out of the situation “with the explosions of seven years ago.” “No one has been able to explain what the investigation has been doing all these years,” he said. “They are tying themselves into knots, so to say, inventing more and more theories. They’d better straighten out the tangle before expelling diplomats and accusing them of what the investigation has not yet found out. And, by the way, judging by how they are doing it, the investigation is unlikely to yield any concrete results,” he said.

“In the United States, you know, our diplomatic property was arrested and for years we have been denied access there to see the condition Russia’s national property that was illegally seized is in. Expulsions of Russian diplomats happen regularly,” Lavrov said, adding that Moscow had repeatedly warned that it could not last forever.

Last Friday, Russia made public a government-endorsed list of unfriendly states featuring only the United States and the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic will be allowed to hire no more than 19 Russian nationals to work for its embassy, and the United States, not a single one.

“The European Union deplores the publication of Measures in “Response to Unfriendly Actions of Foreign States”, following the unprecedented Decree signed by President Putin on 23 April. The EU considers the allegations of unfriendly actions as unfounded”.

“This Decree is incompatible with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 with regard to the duties of the host state to secure the functioning of diplomatic missions.

“We call on Russia to review its decision, to avoid a further deterioration of our relationship that is already under strain. The EU will continue to coordinate its position with its partners.

“We express full solidarity with the Czech Republic, an EU Member State, and the United States of America and call on Russia to fully respect the Vienna Convention”.

EU deplores Czech diplomats expel

Brussels 19.04.2021 “The European Union stands in full support and solidarity with the Czech Republic and deplores Russia’s response to expel 20 Czech diplomats. Russia’s decision follows the announcement by the Czech Republic on 17 April to expel 18 Russian embassy staff, based on reasonable suspicion about the involvement of Russian military intelligence service (GRU) agents in the 2014 explosion of an ammunition depot in the town of Vrbětice, resulting in the death of two Czech nationals. These GRU agents were also in charge of the attempted murder of the Skripals in Salisbury in 2018” reads the statement of the EU spokesperson.

“The European Union is deeply concerned about the repeating negative pattern of dangerous malign behaviour by Russia in Europe. Russia must stop with these activities, which violates well-established international principles and norms and threaten stability in Europe”.

Prague authorities demand that Russian Embassy vacate an area of 5,000 square meters, currently occupied by the diplomatic mission. Before 1968, the mentioned area was a part of the adjacent Stromovka Park, Prague-7 district head Jan Cizinsky said on Twitter.

“The Prague city council called on the Czech government to hold negotiations in a bid to bring the Russian Embassy territory to the state that preceded the Warsaw Pact forces invasion in 1968,” he tweeted.

According to the Czech media, the area in question is about 5,000 square meters. The city authorities plan to plant trees and flowers on this area, as it was prior to August 1968, when a Soviet military camp was deployed there.

This decision was made amid a sharp escalation of relations between Russia and the Czech Republic, following the expulsion of 18 Russian Embassy employees and accusations of Russian intelligence’s involvement in explosions at arms depots in 2014.

Russian defense reporter accused of espionage

The arrest of former journalist has caused major outcry among independent media outlets in Russia. Ivan Safronov, accused of spying for the Czech Republic and the United States, was arrested on July 7 by Russia’s security service, the FSB, which has accused him of state treason, the charges foreseing prison sententse from 12 up to 20 years.

Until two months ago, Safronov was a reporter covering Russia’s defense and space industries for a leading state newspaper, Vedomosti, having spent a decade covering the same subject for Kommersant newspaper. Since May, he has been a communications adviser for the head of Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos.

Safronov’s lawyer told reporters on July 7 the FSB accuses him of passing secret information to Czech intelligence about Russian arms supplies to Africa and military activities in the Middle East. A Moscow court ordered his arrest for two months in pretrial detention in the city’s Lefortovo jail.

Former colleagues and journalists from other publications protested against his arrest outside FSB headquarters in Moscow on July 7, and more than two dozen were detained by police. Three of Russia’s top news outlets, including his two former papers, published protests prominently on their sites, saying the arrest was intended to discourage the objective reporting in Russia.

Kommersant, where Safronov worked for a decade, wrote that the accusations seemed “absurd” and called him a “patriot.” Another leading outlet, RBC, wrote that his arrest was “a signal” to Russian media and society to avoid casting light on shady activities of powerfl groups of people.

Treason cases are classified, meaning Safronov’s trial will be held behind closed doors as even the charges brought against him are likely to remain obscure.

Ivan Pavlov, the lawyer, who defends Safronov at Court, told reporters the FSB alleges his client was recruited in 2012 by Czech intelligence and in 2017 allegedly was given the task of passing along intelligence about the arms deliveries and military operations. That information allegedly was shared with the United States, added Pavlov, who told reporters materials for the case filled seven volumes, suggesting the FSB had been building a case against Safronov for quite some time.

The Czech Foreign ministry on July 8 declined to comment.

Safronov, 30, is known as for breaking stories on Russia’s defense sector and had worked in the Kremlin media pool, which travels with President Putin. Last year, he repeatedly was interrogated by the FSB over an article he wrote about the sale of Russian warplanes to Egypt.

NATO soldiers killed in Parwan

Three NATO’s Resolute Support mission service members from Czech Republic were killed in eastern Afghanistan by a suicide bomber, the U.S. military and Czech authorities said.

In the same attack one American service member and two Afghan soldiers were injured.

They were on foot patrol with Afghan forces, according to NATO sources.

The Czech Republic’s Interior Minister Jan Hamáček issued a statement on his   Twitter microblog, saying, the “Czech Republic has suffered a terrible loss. Our three soldiers were killed in a suicide attack while on a foot patrol with Afghan forces in Parwan province. My thoughts remain with the families and friends of our fallen.”

EU resells tigers for cooking in China

On International Tiger Day 29th July more bizarre details of Europe‘s ties with dubious tiger traders come to light. Research conducted by international animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS shows that at least 1,412 live captive-bred tigers from the EU were legally exported between 1999 and 2016. It is believed that several of these animals have ended up in Asian tourist areas or were killed for traditional Chinese medicine. However, even in Europe tigers are slaughtered. On 16th July Czech authorities discovered a dead tiger as well as tiger skin, claws, bouillon cubes and broth – also called tiger wine – made from tiger bones on a property near Prague.

FOUR PAWS petition now calls on the EU Commission to ban the trade in captive-bred tigers https://help.four-paws.org/en/ban-tiger-trade

The world has already lost more than 90% of its tigers. There are only about 3,900 tigers and in the wild, yet the number of tigers held in captivity is unknown. The new findings and the extent of the tiger trade in Europe are therefore more than shocking. We call on the European Commission to protect the endangered tigers and ban commercial trade in captive-bred tigers. Tiger traders and their cruel business should no longer have a place in the EU,says Kieran Harkin, Head of Wildlife Campaigns at FOUR PAWS.

https://twitter.com/fourpawsint/status/1022818936981733376

The global trade of the endangered big cat and its body parts is flourishing. According to FOUR PAWS investigations and Czech authorities, a living tiger attracts up to 22,000 euros (USD26,000). A kilo of tiger bones is available for about 1,700 euros (USD2,000) and a litre of tiger wine – an allegedly healing broth made from tiger bones – can be found for 85 euros (USD100) on the black market. Between 1999 and 2016, 862 live tigers were legally imported into the EU and 1,412 were exported, which means that Europe’s tiger business is worth more than 50 million euros (USD59 mln) – although this troubling figure is estimated to be higher. During the same period, 8,278 illegal tiger products, such as tiger bouillon cubes, teeth and claws, and 57 illegal live tigers were confiscated in the EU. This horrific trade in endangered tiger parts is wide reaching, with evidence of illegal activity across France, Italy, Belgium, Slovenia, Spain, Denmark, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany and the Czech Republic.

Shocking findings in the Czech Republic
In recent raids near Prague, Czech authorities discovered a dead tiger as well as tiger bones, tiger broth and other remains last week. To not damage the skins, the arrested suspects apparently killed the animals with gunshots in the eyes. The suspects include the well-known zoo owner Ludvik Berousek. At a meeting with FOUR PAWS undercover investigators in June 2018, which was filmed with a hidden camera, Berousek told the investigators that he helps Asian buyers to get the necessary documents for the transfer of the tigers. The zoo owner also bragged that he had already sold a few tigers to China in the last two months. Additionally, the Czech authorities raided the Vietnamese Sapa market in Prague, finding tiger meat products available for sale.

Tigers as a tourist attraction, party trick and photo prop
The findings in the Czech Republic are not isolated cases. FOUR PAWS investigations show that in the past four years, animal traders have exported at least five live tigers from Germany via the Czech Republic to Vietnam, Thailand and South Korea. Further research in Vietnam revealed that at least two of the tigers ended up in the hands of a convicted wildlife trafficker. Also, the trade within the EU often leads to mistreatment of the big cats. In Spain, a zoo called “Zooexoticoskiko” is currently offering wild animals, including tigers, for photo shoots. Also, erotic images can be made with the animals. In some European countries it is also possible to hire tigers for private parties.

Lack of transparency in the EUfe
In the EU, the trade in wild tigers is forbidden, but not the trade in captive-bred tigers. Regulation and enforcement, however, is severely lacking. As a result, the exact numbers of captive and traded tigers in Europe is unknown, as movements within the EU do not require CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) import or export permits. Hence, there are hardly any official documents proving who sells tigers, when, to whom and for what purposes.

FOUR PAWS has therefore launched a petition that enables supporters to call on the European Commission to ban the commercial trade in captive-bred tigers to protect the endangered species from cruel exploitation: https://help.fourpaws.org/en/ban-tiger-trade

Criminal tiger trade in Europe florishes

Prague, 18 July 2018 – Recent police raids in the Czech Republic as well as research by the international animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS show that tiger trade is not only an issue in Asia: The lucrative commercial trade with a highly protected species and their parts is happening right in the centre of Europe as wellOn Monday 15th July the Czech police along with custom officers raided properties in Prague and in central and northern Bohemia in suspicion of illegal killing of tigers and possession of tiger products.

On the 18th July the Czech authorities announced that they seized a recently killed tiger at one of the properties and that one of the suspects was processing tiger bones and other tiger products. The suspects were shooting the tigers in the eyes to not damage the skins and that the tigers were killed and used to make tiger broth. Furthermore, the Czech authorities also raided the Vietnamese market, Sapa in Prague and discovered tiger meat and products on sale.

One of the target facilities raided this week belonged to well-known circus leader, Mr. Ludvik Berousek. FOUR PAWS research conducted in June show a meeting with Mr. Berousek where he proudly showed his tiger breeding facility near Prague and discussed the sale of tigers to Asia. Mr Berousek offered to sell the tigers to Asian buyers and to help facilitate the documents and transfer and boasted that he had already sold tigers to China in the last three months.

“It is shocking how the EU does so much to combat the trade in wildlife in other parts of the world, but we have turned a blind eye to protecting an endangered species on our own doorstep. FOUR PAWS is calling on the European Commission to protect all tigers and to ban the commercial trade in live captive bred tigers. The EU should take a leading role in protecting these endangered species and ban all commercial trade ensuring tiger traders and businesses have no place in the EU” – Kieran Harkin, Head of Wildlife Campaigns at FOUR PAWS, stated.

Tigers: A highly endangered species
In the 20th century the world already lost over 90 per cent of its tigers with current estimates indicating that there are only about 3,900 tigers left in the wild. The relentless demand for tigers to be displayed commercially and traded for their body parts to be used in traditional Asian medicines significantly contributes to this decline. Shockingly, tigers born in captivity in Europe can still be traded for commercial purposes such as circuses or for private keeping or for photo opportunities. In some European countries it is not only possible to buy tigers but to also rent tigers for private parties.

How can this happen in an EU-country?
The European Union does not only lack effective regulation concerning the trade of tigers or their parts, there is also no clear overview of the actual number of captive tigers and trade of these animals. No authority, organisation or country knows how many tigers are currently kept in Europe, where they are moved during their lifetime or how they are used for entertainment purposes, where they die and finally whether in worst cases these animals are being turned into tiger bone wine or traditional medicines. Only by ensuring there is no market for tigers and their parts in Europe the European Commission can be serious about contributing to protecting wild living tigers in Asia and playing a positive role in fighting the illegal trade of all wildlife. FOUR PAWS has launched a petition today through which all supporters can call on the European Commission to ban the commercial trade in tigers: https://help.four-paws.org/en/ban-tiger-trade
ABOUT FOUR PAWS
FOUR PAWS is an international animal welfare organisation with headquarters in Vienna, Austria. Founded by Heli Dungler in 1988, the organisation strives to help animals in need with sustainable campaigns and projects. The work is based on substantiated research and scientific expertise as well as intensive national and international lobbying. FOUR PAWS focuses on animals that are directly under human influence: stray dogs and stray cats, farm animals, companion animals and wild animals including bears, big cats and orangutans kept in inappropriate conditions. With offices in Austria, Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, South Africa, Switzerland, United Kingdom and USA, FOUR PAWS aims to help animals in need directly and quickly. www.four-paws.org

Image: FOUR PAWS below

Prague tiger

Image: FOUR PAWS: illegal tiger trade in Czech Republic

Ankara requests extradition of Kurdish politician

Ankara has officially requested the extradition of  the former Syrian Kurdish PYD leader Saleh Muslim from the Czech Republic, Turkey’s government spokesman said on after authorities arrested Muslim in Prague a day earlier.

Speaking during an interview with broadcaster NTV, Bekir Bozdag said Turkey’s justice ministry had delivered the extradition request to Czech authorities and added Saleh Muslim would appear in court on Monday.

Will the Catalan Republic become an EU member state?

 

cataloniaJordi SOLE, MEP, OPINION

The emergence on new states in Europe is nothing new. In fact, many European states emerged at the end of the 20th century: from the Baltic States that regained independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union, through Czechoslovakia’s split that created the Czech Republic and Slovakia, to the breakup of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which gave birth to no less than seven new states.

The novelty today is that, while these countries did not immediately join the European Union and some of them even took a long and yet unfinished journey towards the Union, an independent Catalonia will claim its right to remain part of the Union, as Catalonia has been a partner in this common project since 1986, has always defined itself as one of the most pro-European countries in the continent, and pro-Europeanism remains a unifying element among Catalonia’s main political parties.

The EU has neither a direct precedent nor a clear policy for what is commonly known as internal enlargement. In fact, EU treaties provide the framework for countries to join the EU and to leave it, but the continuity in the EU of a new state emerging from within the EU is neither explicitly rejected nor foreseen in the treaties.

Nevertheless, the EU has accepted the redefinition of member states’ geographical limits on a number of unexpected cases in the past, adopting pragmatic solutions based on negotiated agreements. That was the case when East and West Germany merged, and also when Greenland decided to leave the EU, but not Denmark, in a referendum.

Furthermore, the EU is committed to the promotion of democracy, which is endorsed as a fundamental principle in its Treaties, and could never punish Catalans (who also enjoy European citizenship rights) for exercising this basic principle in a referendum.

Finally, it is in the economic interest of the EU and its member states –also that of Spain– to include the Catalan Republic among the EU member states, as Catalonia has strong commercial potential, is a strategic location for trade, and is a net contributor to the EU budget.

Thus, there is no reason to think that the EU will not be pragmatic again and will not defend its own economic interests by not taking the Catalan Republic on board.

Jordi Solé

MEP