The Russian school in Prague will probably close. The Czechia does not want to back down in the diplomatic war
The diplomatic war between Prague and Moscow continues even after the two countries expelled dozens of diplomats. And it’s quiet and cold.
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According to the findings of the List of News, a dispute over a Russian high school in Prague bubbled below the surface. It will probably not open at all in September – directly as a result of the Russian-Czech rift.
According to Czech diplomacy, the Russians insist that teachers from the school run by the Russian embassy in Prague should have diplomatic status. However, the Czechia offers them “only” a non-diplomatic stay.
This is a sovereign strategic part hidden behind a sensitive topic related to childcare. However, if teachers were given a diplomatic degree, it would disrupt the hard-to-reach parity, where for the first time since the fall of communism, the same number of people work at the Czech and Russian embassies.
There is a message on the school’s website at the Russian Embassy that does not spare emotions.
“We understand how difficult the children from friendly class schools found themselves at the embassy, and we can imagine how difficult it is to change their parents’ plans. We share your feelings, but unfortunately, despite all the steps that the embassy has taken to restore full educational functioning, an acceptable option that would allow us to start teaching children in all the beloved school has not been found, “reads the current section.
According to the school, solutions will continue to be sought. The institution did not reply to the question List of Reports regarding the further functioning of the text by the deadline.
The Russian school in Prague is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year and has a respectable history. Its predecessor was created with the help of TG Masaryk for Russian refugees from the Bolsheviks. The school also educates children outside the embassy staff.
Until this spring, the teachers had the status of employees of the Russian embassy. In the case of international schools in the Czech Republic, however, this is an unusual practice.
Already in May, the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the need for individual teachers and other personal schools to apply for residency degrees and work in the Czech Republic. Other international schools in the Czech Republic, such as the Japanese or German schools, function in the same way.
However, according to the List of News sources, the Russians have not yet shown interest in obtaining an “ordinary” work permit for teachers. “The Russians have not applied for visas, they are just sending diplomatic matters that teachers must be diplomats,” said a diplomatic source, who did not want to be named due to sensitive negotiations.
According to available information, direct negotiations between Moscow and Prague are not taking place after the spring diplomatic rift. A diplomatic note is a form of written communication between the embassy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the receiving state. It is the most basic and formal, ie not very warm type of diplomatic communication.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs offered co-operation, including the processing of residence titles for school staff. We offer help well in advance so that everything can be done. However, the Russian side did not react to this offer, “said Mariana Wernerová from the press department of the Czernin Palace.
Drivers Vs. spies
President Milos Zeman indirectly supported the Russian side in the matter of teachers. Shortly before the deadline for the departure of Russian diplomats at the end of May, his Chancellor Vratislav Mynář received Russian Ambassador Vladimir Zmeevsky at the Castle. It was supposed to be about these teachers.
“Ordinary people and their children must not become hostages to the state of diplomatic relations between the Czech Republic and the Russian Federation, which means, as it should be noted, reciprocally applies on both sides,” said Jiří Ovčáček, the castle’s second spokesman.
But from the point of view of Czech diplomacy, it seems to be crucial to maintain parity, ie the same number of diplomats at the Czech and Russian embassies. Russian teachers, respecting their unilateral diplomatic status, which can function like any Trojan horse that disrupts by fragile agreement.
Theoretically, Czech diplomacy could “exchange” diplomatic status for teachers for strengthening its weakened embassy in Moscow, but Moscow will probably not do so. It is clear that there is a lot at stake when it comes to the status of teachers.
For thirty years after the fall of communism and Soviet influence in Central Europe, the Russian embassy in Prague maintained its dimensions from the Iron Curtain. Once again this year, the pink Czechs had 25 diplomats in Moscow, the Russians in Prague 45, but also another 67 Russian employees in technical and administrative professions, such as driver or secretary.
The Czechs, on the other hand, had 19 of these workers in Russian capitals – they relied much more on hiring local forces. According to security experts, the high number of non-diplomatic workers from home countries may mean that they act as cover contributions for spies.
The situation in Czech-Russian relations escalated in early April this year after the government published information from Czech security forces that Russian military intelligence agents of the GRU were supposed to have been involved in explosions in ammunition depots in Vrbětice since 2014. They are supposed to be the same men who, according to the British, poisoned a new agent, double agent Sergei Skripal, in Salisbury.
Of which Skripal and his daughter survived the attack, two Czech citizens perished in Vrbětice.
Subsequently, due to this attack, the Czech government decided to expel 18 Russian diplomats serving in Prague, they were supposed to be persons identified by the Czech authorities as employees of the Russian secret services GRU and SVR. The Russians reacted reciprocally – expelling two more Czech diplomats.
In the strategically mature part, however, the Czechs finally reached a comparison of the number of 7 diplomatic and 25 other workers. She also lost weight in Prague – mainly in local reinforcements. Already in June, for example, Czech diplomacy had to close restaurant and hotel operations in the Czech House in Moscow.
“The expulsion of embassy staff and the restriction of the possibility of employing local workers have an impact on the functioning of our embassy. However, he continues to perform foreign service, including the consular agenda. Travel between Russia and the Czech Republic still remains limited due to epidemic measures, “said spokeswoman Davidová.