Sci-tech

Czech police announce manhunt for two Russian nationals matching Skripal-poisoners’ description

"There is well-grounded suspicion about the involvement of officers of the Russian intelligence service GRU.in the explosion of ammunitions depot in the Vrbetice area", Babis told a briefing shown live on television.

Prime Minister Andrej Babis said the move is based on "unequivocal evidence" provided by the Czech intelligence and security services that points to the involvement of Russian military agents in the massive explosion in an eastern town that killed "two innocent fathers".

Czech authorities today accused the men of causing an explosion on October 16, 2014 at a warehouse with 58 tonnes of ammunition.

The Czech announcement came two days after the USA said it was expelling 10 Russian diplomats and imposing sanctions against several dozen people and companies, holding the Kremlin accountable for interference in last year's presidential election and the hacking of federal agencies.

Interior Minister Jan Hamacek, who is also serving as the foreign minister, said the Russian embassy staffers were clearly identified as Russian military spies.

Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with a nerve agent in the English city of Salisbury in March 2018.

Czech police are looking for suspects using the identities Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov in connection with the explosion.

More news: Arrest Made of Longtime Prime Suspect In Kristin Smart's Unsolved 1996 Murder

These are the same names used by two Russian intelligence officers the United Kingdom says carried out the poisoning in Salisbury, Wiltshire in 2018.

According to Czech police they were first in Prague, and later in the Morovian-Silesian region and then finally in the Zlin region.

After Salisbury, the two men were identified as Alexander Mishkin and Anatoliy Chepiga and subsequently appeared on Russian TV to claim they were sports nutritionists who had visited Salisbury to see the cathedral spire.

Dawn Sturgess died three months after the Skripals' poisoning after she and her partner Charlie Rowley fell ill after coming into contact with Novichok.

Warsaw also expressed solidarity with the USA, which earlier that day had announced sanctions and the expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats in retaliation for what Washington said was the Kremlin's U.S. election interference, a massive cyber attack and other hostile activity.

"The Czech Republic is a sovereign state and has to respond to the unprecedented findings [of the investigation] appropriately", Mr Babis added.



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