Russian diplomat in Prague poison plot row named

Russia's embassy in Prague has asked for police protection for one of its diplomats, who has been named by Czech media amid allegations of a plot to poison Czech politicians. It said "false and unfounded" allegations had been made against one of its employees and he was now receiving threats, news wires reported.

Last month a Czech weekly, Respekt, alleged that a Russian agent had travelled to Prague with a suitcase containing the highly potent toxin, ricin. It suggested the poison might be used to target Czech politicians who had angered Russia. Czech TV has now alleged in a documentary that the reports involved Andrei Konchakov, head of the Russian Centre for Science and Culture in Prague, and suggests he is an undeclared intelligence officer.

Without naming him, the embassy said on its Facebook page that a member of its staff was the target of an "anti-Russian information campaign" and that it had been forced to apply for police protection for him. It said the diplomat was the victim of a "slander campaign" whipped up by Czech media.

Konchakov told Czech website Seznam Zpravy he had brought "disinfectant and sweets" into the country in his suitcase, and not ricin as had been claimed. Several Russian media have also reported his name. According to his biography on the Prague Russian centre's website, he was born in 1986 and given his current job in December 2017.

The head of the federal agency he works for in Moscow dismissed the reports as a "pure provocation", linked to an ongoing row over the removal of a statue of Soviet Marshal Ivan Konev in Prague. Prague and Moscow are due to start talks in the coming days to try to defuse growing tension in bilateral relations.

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