Czech FM to reintroduce proposal to curb Schengen travel for Russian diplomats

Czechia will again propose restricting the movement of Russian diplomats in the Schengen area, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský (Pirates, Greens) said in response to the arrest of two Russian agents in Germany on suspicion of espionage and planning attacks.

Last week, German federal prosecutors arrested two suspected Russian spies in Bavaria on suspicion of espionage and planning attacks on military targets to undermine support for Ukraine. German diplomacy suspects Russia is recruiting agents to carry out attacks on German soil.

“Russian intelligence threat in Europe is a reality,” Lipavský wrote on X on Saturday.

Responding to Germany summoning the Russian ambassador and telling him that Germany would not allow Russia to bring its terror to the country, Lipavský expressed full support for the German response and said he wanted to raise the issue of Russian agents at the EU Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) in Luxembourg on Monday.

“We must develop new instruments to tackle the Russian spy threat. On Monday at FAC, I will reiterate my proposals to curb Russian spies moving across Schengen. It could be achieved rapidly,” said Lipavský, whose country also has extensive experience with Russian agents who allegedly caused the 2014 ammunition warehouses blast on the Czech territory.

Czechia has already proposed restricting the movement of Russian agents in the EU in the autumn of 2023, and although the Foreign Ministry did not want to comment on the ongoing negotiations on the matter, the Czech proposal is not yet supported by all countries.

However, as Euractiv Czechia learnt, some countries are concerned that the proposal may violate the Schengen rules and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations – though Czech diplomatic sources confirmed to Czech media in November 2023 that Prague would like the EU to agree to restrict the movement of Russian spies in Schengen.

In 2022, the European Union decided that Russian diplomats could no longer benefit from the visa facilitation provisions that gave them privileged access to the EU. However, they can still obtain visas and travel through Schengen countries.

Under the Czech proposal, Russian “diplomats” or secret agents under diplomatic cover who come to Europe for a short time would not be allowed to travel to any EU country other than the one for which they have been issued a visa.

The other option is to make biometric passports mandatory for Russian diplomats at the EU level, as these are more difficult to forge.

(Aneta Zachová |

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