The decision was made amid a sharp escalation of relations between Russia and the Czech Republic, following the expulsion of 18 Russian Embassy employees and accusations of Russian intelligence’s involvement in explosions at arms depots in 2014.
Prague authorities demand that Russian Embassy vacate an area of 5,000 square meters, currently occupied by the diplomatic mission.
Before 1968, the mentioned area was a part of the adjacent Stromovka Park in Prague 7.
“The Prague city council called on the Czech government to hold negotiations in a bid to bring the Russian Embassy territory to the state that preceded the Warsaw Pact forces invasion in 1968,” he tweeted.
According to the Czech media, the area in question is about 5,000 square meters. The city authorities plan to plant trees and flowers in this area, as it was prior to August 1968, when a soviet military camp was deployed there.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis and First Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamacek on Saturday announced the expulsion of 18 employees of the Russian embassy in Prague, who were allegedly “officers of Russian special services.”
The move came in the context of the newly leveled circumstance of the 2014 blast at the ammunition depot in the village of Vrbětice.
The Bubeneč Popper house and surrounding land was confiscated by the Nazi authorities on 16 March 1939, a day after their occupation of Czechoslovakia, and was subsequently used as the Prague headquarters of the Gestapo.
It was in this period of time that the embassy was fitted with a series of tunnels that housed Gestapo archives as well as a security hallway connecting the tunnels to the embassy.
The property was later granted to the Soviet Union by Beneš as a gift in thanks to the Soviet liberation of Czechoslovakia from Nazi rule. The building was used by the Soviets to accommodate the embassy of the Soviet Union to Czechoslovakia.
Following this shift in ownership, the Soviets worked to integrate the tunnels and secure rooms which were added by the Nazi government. It is a widely held belief that many of these rooms were used by KGB Line X officers for means of espionage and counterintelligence.