Global Analysis from the European Perspective. Preparing for the world of tomorrow




Czechia joins the Me-Too Movement

You will have remembered the me-too movement growing thick and fast in the United States and springing over to Europe. All of a sudden, as if on order, a number of well-known women – show-business celebrities – one after another, publicly, began accusing well-known men – show-business entrepreneurs or politicians if the distinction is important – of abusing them sexually, of mistreating them, of even raping them… twenty, thirty or so years earlier. The accused wriggled and squirmed in front of the cameras, either dismissing the allegations or offering grovelling apologies for any minute impropriety that they may have been guilty of. Some of the accused got Scot-free, others had to pay a price, sometimes a heavy price, as was the case with movie producer Harvey Weinstein.

So, too, particular governments have this particular capability of retrieving past events from their memories and putting them to good use at present. The year was 2014, the place – Vrbětice, a village in eastern Czechia, close to the border with Slovakia. Two explosions with a one-month interval between them took place in the local arms and ammunition depots, killing two people and causing a huge material loss. A due investigation was carried out and in 2016 the case was closed: gross negligence was the root cause of the accident.


Explosion in the ammunition depot in Vrbětice

A few years fast forward and – lo and behold! – the news is broken that the explosions were not accidental but purposeful and that they were caused by – how otherwise! – Russian agents. To be strictly correct, not merely by Russian agents, but by the GRU Russian agents. These three letters – G.R.U. – enormously feed the imagination of an average European who is just a little bit interested in politics and modern history as the GRU (Главное управление Генерального штаба – Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation) is credited with unmatched effectiveness, by far surpassing that of the well-known KGB. To the readers of the books authored by the former Soviet agent Victor Suvorov (real name: Vladimir Rezun) – Aquarium, Inside the Military Intelligence, Spetsnas. The Story Behind the Soviet SAS – the abbreviation GRU rings big bells.

Needless to say, we will not know the genuine perpetrators of the event and all we can do is to pose questions and work out plausible scenarios; we may also point to coincidences, contradictions, inaccuracies and statements that fly in the face of common sense.

The news about Vrbětice was well-timed: a few days earlier US President Biden accused his Russian counterpart of being a killer, a murderer, someone who sends henchmen to various places in the world with the task of eliminating individuals who he regards as dangerous for Russia. The case of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, who were allegedly the targets of a poisonous attack of Russian agents, the case of Alexei Navalny, who survived an apparently similar attempt on his life, have duly been brought again to the public attention. The Vrbětice affair also coincides neatly with the anniversary of the Smolensk Air Disaster of 10 April 2010, a disaster that killed Poland’s president, a number of ministers, top brass of the country’s military and other important figures. Needless to say, an assumption has been made and recently revived that the disaster was caused by an explosion of a bomb planted on board the plane. Poles, in their majority sharing deep-seated anti-Russian sentiments, do not need much evidence to know who the perpetrators were, so much so that Polish President Lech Kaczyński, who died in the accident, pursued a policy that ran counter to the wishes of the Kremlin.

The revelations surrounding Vrbětice explosions seem to have all originated from one source: the lengthy article entitled Senior GRU Leader Directly Involved With Czech Arms Depot Explosion and posted on the bellingcat website. The text – interestingly enough offered in English and Russian only – is a detailed chronicle of the movements of a few Russian agents who prepared the explosion and by the way had everything to do with the Skripal affair. The readers learn about their names, see the images of their faces and their passports (do you remember the IDs of the terrorists who flew the two planes into the World Trade Centre towers, miraculously uncovered from the debris?), can follow their itinerary with all the minute data like the number of the GRU unit they are the members of, the car rental companies whose services they used or the details of the flights by means of which they criss-crossed Europe, the time needed for this or that action and so on, and so forth. Though the reader is informed that the investigation was carried out by one Christo Grozev and one Yordan Taslov in partnership with The Insider, Der Spiegel and Respekt.cz., one cannot get rid of the impression that the amount and the minuteness of the data suggest that the revelations are the result of an intensive work done by professional intelligence services of many states or have been at least partially made up. Journalists – be they from renowned Der Spiegel – do not have the right to access personal data at airports, hotels and car rentals, or do they? The whole report produced by bellingcat reads like a spy novel, all the puzzle pieces fit well together so as to impose on the reader the conclusion desired by its authors.


Detailed itinerary of the Russian agents provided by bellingcat

Czech President Miloš Zeman, who is not particularly anti-Russian, was kind of maneuvered into an interview for the Czech branch of CNN, in which he said that – first – there was no evidence that the Russians were behind the explosions, that the investigations were still under way but – second – that despite that he had backed the decision of the Czech government led by (pro-European, pro-American) Andrej Babiš to expel several Russian diplomats from Prague. Hold on for a moment! Punishment without guilt?


Czech President Miloš Zeman

What else do we know? Two interesting things. One, that a tender for the supply of nuclear fuel for the Czech Dukovany Power Plant has attracted interest of the Russian Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation and the American Westinghouse Electric Company. Two, that President Miloš Zeman was interested in purchasing the Sputnik V, the Russian anti-Covid vaccine. Should it be proved that the Vrbětice explosions were caused by Russians, neither Rosatom nor the Sputnik V vaccine need apply for being so much as even cursorily considered in the Czech Republic.

What else do we know? We know history and we know that a change in political course needs to get a boost. The assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand paved the way for the outbreak of the First World War; the Zimmermann Telegram of 1917 and the sinking of the Lusitania ushered in American participation in World War One; the Gleiwitz incident of 1939 – an alleged attack of a Polish unit on the local German radio broadcasting station – was to be the last provocative event warranting Germany’s aggression against Poland; the Gulf of Tonkin incident gave the United States a pretext to get heavily involved in bombing Vietnam; the World Trade Center twin-towers spectacular collapse justified American military intervention in the Middle East; the alleged evidence of the weapons of mass destruction stored in Iraq provided just the right pretext for the US to step in there. Do we need to mention concentration camps allegedly run by Serbs in former Yugoslavia, gas-killings applied by Saddam Hussein against Kurds, the atrocities committed by Bashar al-Assad against civilians in Syria or the ruthless killings of Kuwait babies by Iraqi soldiers? These and many other events may be true, partially true or made up. They all have one common denominator, though: they all serve the purpose of launching an aggression or reversing political course and winning the hearts of the gullible public to the cause of cold or hot war.

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