Russia dismisses media report of plot to poison Prague mayor

U.S. & World

The statue of a Soviet World War II commander Marshall Ivan Stepanovic Konev is loaded onto a truck after its been removed from its site in Prague, Czech Republic, Friday, April 3, 2020. Marshall Konev led the Red Army forces that liberated Prague and large parts of Czechoslovakia from the Nazi occupation in 1945. His monument, unveiled in the Prague 6 district in 1980 when the country was occupied by Soviet troops, has been a source of controversy. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

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PRAGUE (AP) — The Russian embassy in Prague has formally protested to the Czech Foreign Ministry over a media report claiming that Russian spies may have plotted to poison the mayor of Prague and another local official whose recent actions have angered Moscow.

Respekt weekly claimed Monday that Czech intelligence services suspected a Russian agent was sent to Prague three weeks ago to poison Prague mayor Zdenek Hrib and Prague 6 district’s Mayor Ondrej Kolar with ricin, a highly potent toxin.

Czech authorities did not comment on the report.

“The allegations in the story are absolutely baseless” and designed to “discredit” Russia, an embassy statement said.

Hrib and Kolar have both been strongly criticized recently by Russian officials. Both have been placed under police protection. Authorities didn’t give any reason for that measure.

In February, a Prague square in front of the Russian Embassy was renamed after slain Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, with Hrib unveiling the new nameplate.

In April, Kolar’s district removed the statue of Soviet World War II commander Ivan Stepanovic Konev whose armies liberated Prague from Nazi occupation.

Prague 6 officials said the statue will be moved to a museum and a new monument honoring the city’s liberation will be installed in its place.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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