Slovakia will expel three Russian diplomats, PM Eduard Heger announced together with Defence Minister Jaroslav Naď and Foreign Affairs Minister Ivan Korčok on April 22.
“Slovakia cannot tolerate if the activities of representatives of foreign diplomatic missions do not respect agreed principles,” Heger told the press. “Ensuring the security of citizens is one of the biggest tasks of the state.”
Slovakia has taken this step in reaction to the probable sabotage by Russian agents that caused the explosion of an ammunition warehouse in the Czech village of Vrbětice in 2014.
Slovakia came to the decision to expel diplomats after a thorough evaluation of information provided by Slovak intelligence services that are in close operation with services of allied countries, Heger said.
“Slovakia confirms its interest in building a relationship with the Russian Federation based on mutual respect,” Heger said, adding that Slovakia expects representatives of the Russian diplomatic mission to respect principles based on international agreements.
The PM also added that Slovakia continues to express solidarity and full support for the Czech Republic.
Seven days to leave
The diplomats have to leave the country in seven days. It is expected that Russia will take similar steps and will probably send three Slovaks home from the Slovak Embassy in Moscow.
“I expect a reaction from the Russian part, but I expect an adequate reaction,” Korčok said.
Experts have pointed out the disproportion of Slovak and Russian diplomatic missions before.
The Russian Embassy in Bratislava reported they had 28 Russian diplomats working in Slovakia as of April. Other coworkers were not listed on the so-called diplomatic list, the official list of members of diplomatic missions in Slovakia.
Korčok added that the Russians have been notified about the expulsion in advance, as it is standard in such cases.
“This decision came based on the evaluation of the activities, but it is also an expression of solidarity with the Czech Republic,“ Foreign Affairs Minister Ivan Korčok told the media.
The Russian Embassy in Slovakia refused the allegations against its staff members. The embassy says Slovakia's decision to expel the Russian diplomats contradicts the historically good relations between the two nations.
“Charges against employees of the Russian Embassy in Slovakia of any illegal activity, all the more so against any activities against Slovakia, are absolutely unfounded," the embassy wrote on Facebook.
The Russian government is disappointed with the actions of the Slovak Republic.
"Traditionally, a mirror-like response will follow," the diplomatic agency reported, as quoted by the TASS newswire.
Slovakia took a similar step last August when three Russian diplomats were asked to leave in the wake of a scandal involving Slovakia's consulate in St. Petersburg.