- Hans Weber
- December 1, 2023
Czech Foreign Ministry Files Lawsuit Against Russia Seeking $2.44 Million in Compensation for Embassy Land Lease Payments
The Czech Foreign Ministry has taken legal action against Russia by filing a lawsuit in a Prague court, seeking compensation of $2.44 million in lease payments for land used by the Russian embassy in Prague and other cities. This move comes in the aftermath of the Czech center-right government’s decision to revoke the decades-old practice of granting Russia free-of-charge use of dozens of plots of land dating back to the 1970s and 1980s.
Since May, Russia has been required to pay lease fees for the plots, a decision that has further strained the already frosty bilateral diplomatic relations between the two countries, which have been tense since Russia’s conflict with Ukraine. The recent lawsuit, based on the claim of “unjust enrichment” by Russia over the past three years, is seen as an escalation in the ongoing dispute.
Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky explained the reason behind the legal action, stating, “We took this step because we did not receive any response from Russian authorities during pre-court calls.” However, the ministry refrained from providing further details regarding the specific issues leading to the lawsuit.
The Czech European Affairs Minister, Martin Dvorak, emphasized in May that unauthorized profits from the land should not support the “occupation of Ukraine,” alluding to concerns over Russia’s actions in the neighboring country. Russia, on the other hand, expressed dissatisfaction with the retroactive demands for rent, characterizing them as “a ransom demand at the state level,” according to a statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry.
Tensions between the Czech Republic and Russia escalated in 2021 when Prague accused Russian intelligence agents of being behind explosions at a Czech arms depot in 2014. In response, the Czech parliament designated the Russian government as a terrorist entity in November of the same year due to its conflict with Ukraine.
As of now, the Russian embassy has not issued an official response to the lawsuit. It remains to be seen how this legal action will affect the already strained relations between the two nations and whether a resolution can be reached through diplomatic channels or if it will lead to further complications in their bilateral ties.
Article by Prague Forum