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    Czech Scholar: 'Russian Spies' Case Politicised

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    In its annual report, the Security Information Service (BIS) of the Czech Republic has called Russia the main threat to the country, more important than terrorist groups’ activities, organised crime, and extremists inside the country.

    Alongside with the cyber-attacks on the Czech Foreign Ministry, the security service has accused Russia of having employed a "hybrid strategy" to weaken NATO and EU inside the state.  It involves not only espionage but also attempts to gain control over some key enterprises and organise information campaigns in the interest of Moscow. This is the first time Russia has been blamed so explicitly. What is Prague trying to achieve?

    Sputnik has asked Jan Miklas, a political scientist from Prague to comment on the issue.

    Jan Miklas: First of all, I'd like to say that this whole "Russian Spies" case is politicised. It was initiated by the politicians, promoting anti-Russian sentiment. Solely, for this reason, it cannot be objective and rational.

    BIS warns that Russia and China are spying in the country. It doesn't mention the US at all. In the meantime, there was this "Reconstruction of the State" initiative that Prime Minister Babiš and ANO came forward with. They planned to influence the legal system, justice system, and internal state structures through reconstructing the state. It's interesting that this initiative was supported by the US Embassy and its former head Andrew Schapiro.

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    American experts were advisors on the reconstruction project. On the other hand, when we speak about Russian espionage, some disinformation websites are mentioned. These portals are supposedly spreading disinformation and Russia is allegedly controlling them and providing assistance. Meanwhile, there is no evidence that Russia controls these so-called disinformation portals.

    Personally, I think that these portals are a personal initiative by their founders who may have certain political motivations, say, anti-Islamic campaigns. Mentioning Russia is their personal matter. If the security services falsely see Russia's position on these websites, it doesn't mean that they are supported by Russia, because there is no evidence to back up this point.  

    Sputnik: The BIS's report says that the firms, secretly owned by Russians, often participate in Czech tenders, which leads to corruption. However, in theory all the offers made by companies must be transparent and checked by Czech state bodies.  Where is the opportunity for corruption here?

    Jan Miklas: Corruption depends on the attitude of the Czech state structures. Of course, all firms including Russian, American, and Chinese must be kept in check to avoid corruption. However, if you keep emphasising that Russian firms are corrupt, but don't mention that Westinghouse (an American firm, and candidate for the contract to complete the Temelín and Dukovany nuclear power plants) and other enterprises are pressuring Prime Minister Babiš, it is a double standard.

    Sputnik: What damage do you think this spy delusion could do to relations with Russia?

    Jan Miklas: I don't think that it can have extensive effects. I think this is the case, simply because the Russian establishment also understands that people, promoting Russophobia, are not a representative part of the country's politicians and population. For example, President Zeman is very positive about Russia. He's an important person, well known in Russia.

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    I think he's more significant than those, who promote an anti-Russian sentiment. However, there is another trend. Recently, the Czech Foreign Ministry and Minister Petříček have suggested reducing the number of employees in the arguably bloated Russian Embassy. I want to emphasise that this is also nothing but politics at work, the useless side of it. Through this Petříček can indirectly damage Russian-Czech relations, creating diplomatic difficulties. As a result, Czech diplomats could be expelled from Russia. That is why I think that Petříček's initiative is absolutely unnecessary.

    The views expressed in this article are solely those of Jan Miklas and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.    

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