Russian Foreign Minister Urges Brussels Look into Private Ownership of Ammo Depots
Brussels should look into the issue of private entrepreneurs being involved in ammo depots in the Czech Republic and Bulgaria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said during a press conference on Wednesday, commenting on the accusations of Bulgaria against Russia.
"I think that the EU should consider the situation in the Czech Republic and in Bulgaria. The situation when some private entrepreneurs have some involvement in the arms trade and the storage of ammunition and weapons. The EU must answer the question that we posed, which comes down to what the EU does to control the adherence of its members to their obligations within various documents in the sphere of arms trade," Lavrov said in response to a question by TASS.
"There are enough materials in the Western press. For example, I just remembered that Mr. Gebrev [Emilian Gebrev, owner of the EMCO arms company - TASS] or his employees stated that there were no anti-personnel mines at the depots in the Czech Republic, that there were simply casings for anti-personnel mines," the Russian foreign minister noted. "But at the same time, the media mention that there were several cases of Mr. Gebrev exporting these casings of anti-personnel mines to some other country, where these mines received the corresponding submunition." The top diplomat pointed out that there are several scenarios in this case, considering "just how tricky those selling arms in violation of laws and international conventions are."
"The EU needs to explain to the global community how this corresponds to the international conventions and agreements that EU members signed together," Lavrov concluded.
Explosions in Czech Republic and Bulgaria
Earlier on Wednesday, a spokeswoman for the Bulgarian Prosecutor General’s Office Siika Mileva informed that the Bulgarian top prosecutor suspects six Russians of organizing four explosions at the country’s arms factories over a nine-year period from 2011 to 2020. The factories stored weapons belonging to Bulgarian arms dealer Emilian Gebrev.
Before that, the Czech Republic accused Moscow of having been allegedly involved in the ammunition depot blasts in Vrbetice in 2014. On April 17, 2021, Czech officials announced their decision to expel 18 employees of the Russian Embassy in Prague, who were allegedly "officers of Russian intelligence services." The Russian Foreign Ministry lodged a strong protest to the Czech government and declared 20 employees of the Czech Embassy in Russia’s capital personae non gratae.
On April 25, Czech President Milos Zeman said in a statement that the Czech Security Information Service’s reports had no mention of any evidence of the presence of any "Russian agents" at the ammunition depot in Vrbetice and this theory had surfaced only in recent weeks. Moreover, according to the Czech president, national officers of the law found evidence that Bulgarian arms trader Emilian Gebrev had been involved in the explosions at the ammunition depots in the village of Vrbetice.
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