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Czech leader: 2014 blast at ammunition dump may have been an accident

Czech leader: 2014 blast at ammunition dump may have been an accident
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Czech President Milos Zeman on Sunday said that the 2014 explosion at an ammunition depot in the Czech Republic may have been an accident, more than one week after accusing Russia of involvement.

In his first public remarks on the case, Zeman, according to Reuters, presented two theories on the cause of the explosion: an accident, and an “operation of a foreign intelligence service.”

"We are working with two investigative theories - the first, original one, that there was an explosion resulting from inexpert handling of explosives, and the second, that it was an operation of a foreign intelligence service," Zeman said in a pre-recorded speech, which was carried on Prima television, according to Reuters.

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Zeman said he takes “both of these theories seriously and I wish for them to be thoroughly investigated.”

The comments from Zeman come after the Czech Republic suggested that Russian forces may be behind the explosion.

The Czech Republic linked the two suspects accused of involvement in the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy in the U.K. to the explosion in Vrbetice that killed two people.

Zemin noted, however, that there was no evidence that the spies infiltrated the Vrbetice facility, but said they did not rule out that they did enter the area, according to Reuters. He also said the speculation of their involvement was serious.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov fired back in response, accusing the West of harboring “mass anti-Russian psychosis,” and denying that Moscow was responsible for raising tensions with the West, as tens of thousands of Russian troops were deployed near the border with Ukraine.

On Thursday, however, Russia said it was ending the military buildup at the Ukrainian border.

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The Czech Republic also expelled 18 Russian diplomats and other embassy staff who were determined to be spies, according to Reuters.

Additionally, 63 diplomats and Russian staff were ordered to leave the country by the end of May, Reuters reported.

Moscow responded by requiring that 20 Czech diplomats and staff leave the country, and ordering the Czechs to, by May, cut approximately 90 percent of their Russian support staff based at the Czech Embassy and a separate complex, according to Reuters.