Czech President Miloš Zeman and incumbent Prime Minister Andrei Babish (photo from the archive)
Intracische political struggle unexpectedly became part of a large international scandal. President Miloš Zeman confirmed the statements of the Russian Foreign Ministry that in the Czech Republic a poisonous substance of class "Newbie". He stated this on air "friendly" Presidential Chancellery of the TV channel Barrandov. Maria Zakharova of the Russian Foreign Ministry already says that this acknowledgment confirms the lies of the British authorities. In the Czech Republic, the president’s speech beats on the reputation of the government, which previously unconditionally supported the British against the Russians.
What did Zeman admit?
On the territory of the Czech Republic, in small quantities, a poison chemical was actually produced and tested "Newbie". Then it was destroyed. This was told by President Zeman. This information, he claims, he drew from a certificate provided by the Czech special services at his request.
To the poisoning in Salisbury of the former GRU officer Sergei Skripal, this statement formally has nothing to do with it. According to Zeman, in the Czech Republic was tested substance A-230. The former Russian scout was poisoned with A-234 substance, that is, a poison similar in its properties, but differing in chemical composition.
Not enough for this chemical attack and the amount of substance that was tested in the Czech Republic. Zeman says about very small quantities. That is, obviously, from 5 to 10 grams, which, according to the Director General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ahmet Uzumju is sufficient to test such poisonous substances. To poison the same Skripal, as the head of the OPCW in an interview with the American newspaper The New York Times, could use 50, and maybe 100 g of poison.
So, formally, Milosh Zeman did not help Russia in any way. In reality, he could not fail to understand how this statement will be used by the Kremlin for propaganda purposes. Zeman in big politics is by no means a beginner. But the Czech president, most likely, was not up to the international reputation of the country, it was more important for him to press his own government, exposing him as a liar.
Poison for the Czech Premier
Availability "Beginner" on the territory of the Czech Republic had previously publicly denied the Acting President. premiere Andrei Babish, acting. Foreign Minister Martin Stropnitsky and his colleague from the Defense Ministry Karl Shlehtov. Last by the way, immediately responded to Twitter on Zeman’s statement. According to Shlekhtova, she can not comment on the public statement of the president, because she has only secret information, but can assure everyone that now in the Czech Republic there is no "Beginner" no.
Thus, it turns out that the head of the Ministry of Defense recognizes the possibility of testing toxic chemicals on Czech territory. Does this mean that she and her colleagues tried in vain to refute the statements of Russian diplomats with such fervor, as if the Czech Republic is one of the EU countries, where similar developments were carried out, like in Russia? To doubt, if desired, even the expulsion of three Russian diplomats can now be made, since one of the reasons was precisely the statement of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs about a possible Czech origin "Beginner".
All these assumptions, even if they are ultimately disproved, are hitting the already weak reputation of the current Czech government.
Why would Milos Zeman need this? Well, for example, then, that i.o. Prime Minister Babish is currently in talks to create a new ruling coalition with the Czech Social Democrat Party, whose control was recently achieved by the president’s associates. After such a blow in the back, the head of government is very likely to become more accommodating. For example, it will be forced to cede to the younger partners in the coalition of the Foreign Ministry or the Ministry of Defense, in connection with the fact that these ministers "discredited themselves".
So there is a chance that the main in this scandal is the Czech domestic political struggle. Although the Kremlin propaganda has not slowed down "outline" Zeman.
Brick in the wall of the Kremlin propaganda
Already the morning after Zeman’s speech, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova called the statement of the Czech president proof of the falsity of British politicians. "The fog dissipates, and the numerous deceptions of Teresa May’s government show up more and more clearly", – the diplomat wrote on her Facebook page.
The best gift for the Kremlin propaganda can not be imagined. Well, who, except specialists, will understand the difference between substances A-234 and A-230, argue about which one can be called "Beginner"? Especially after the Czech president himself said that the government of his country – and therefore, most likely, the British one – for a reason that he did not understand, lied?
It’s enough just to deftly pull out a couple of quotes, which is what many Russian media are doing – and the propaganda battles are won. And you can even not add to this wild assumption that, they say, the British special services poison themselves. Accustomed to conspiracy, the mind of the Russian reader will think up the missing fakes.
Author: Ivan Preobrazhensky is a candidate of political science, an expert on Central and Eastern Europe, a columnist for a number of media outlets. The author of the weekly column on DW. Ivan Preobrazhensky on Facebook: Ivan Preobrazhensky
This comment expresses the author’s personal opinion. It may not coincide with the opinion of the Russian editorial board and Deutsche Welle generally.
All that is known about the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter