The National Centre Against Organized Crime (NCOZ) has detained five Czech citizens on suspicion of terrorist activity, for links to pro-Russian separatist groups involved in unrest in the Donetsk region of East Ukraine. The group was allegedly raising money for those aiming to travel to Donetsk to fight on the side of the Russians. Photo Credit: KB / BD / Illustrative Photo.
Czech Rep., Apr 23 (BD) – The National Centre Against Organized Crime (NCOZ) has detained five Czech citizens on suspicion of terrorist activity, for links to pro-Russian separatist groups involved in unrest in the Donetsk region of East Ukraine. None of the suspects have been charged, while the authorities carry out standard criminal proceedings. Following a nationwide investigation by NCOZ, the five people were detained during the night, when the paramilitary group was about to travel to East Ukraine to fight on the side of pro-Russian separatist groups. According to several media outlets, the Czech paramilitary group was allegedly raising money for those aiming to travel to Donetsk and join the fighting, and their activities were supported by the members of GRU intelligence service at the Russian Embassy in Prague. Several employees of the embassy were recently expelled from the Czech Republic.
“The police are conducting criminal proceedings on suspicion of carrying out a terrorist attack, financing terrorism, and supporting and promoting terrorism, and these crimes are related to the involvement of Czech citizens in the fighting in eastern Ukraine on the side of the Donetsk People’s Republic,” reported Chief State Attorney Martin Bílý. It is reported that the investigation was centred around Ivan Kratochvíl, chairman of the Czechoslovak Soldiers Association In Reserve For Peace, and he was among those arrested. The police established that one of the members of the group had already travelled to Donbas, where he was supposed to join the fighting on the side of the separatists. After his return, the group began to raise money so that other Czechs could travel to the conflict zone. The police raided a property in Slaný, where Kratochvíl was found. The police stated on Twitter that the intervention was not related to the Vrbětice case.
Similar involvement of Czechs in the East Ukrainian conflict has been detected in the past. In December last year the Ústí nad Labem Regional Court sentenced a 45-year-old man to prison due to his connections with separatists in the region. A soldier named Erik Ešta was suspended in 2019 for helping pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.