The mayor of Prague has confirmed he is under police protection, days after a news report suggested he was the target of an assassination plot.
Mayor Zdenek Hrib refused to say why he was under protection but said he had told police he was being followed.
The Russian embassy said the report had “absolutely no basis” and that it “categorically rejects” the allegation. And Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, dismissed the news report as fake.
Czech law enforcement and politicians have not confirmed there was a plot. The article cites unnamed intelligence sources and has not been verified.
Czech daily newspaper Denik N says three intelligence sources have told them counter-intelligence workers warned the government the man posed a clear danger to local politicians – including Mr Novotny, mayor of the nearby western Prague district Reporyje.
The newspaper also alleges that the matter came up at a meeting between Czech Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek and Russian Ambassador Alexander Zmeyevsky. Zuzana Stichova, Czech foreign ministry spokeswoman said they would “not comment on the leaks published in the media”, adding that they worked with the security services and “react adequately to all advice and information we receive about potential threats”. “The fact remains that several weeks ago an appropriately accredited Russian diplomat returned to Prague from a business trip and he was met at the airport by his colleagues,” she said.
Both Mr Hrib and Mr Kolar have spoken out against Mr Putin’s government in recent months.
Mr Hrib backed plans to rename the square outside the Russian embassy to honour Boris Nemtsov, a Russian opposition leader who was killed near the Kremlin in 2015.
Russia has since changed the address of its embassy to nearby Korunovacni Street, Czech media reports.
Several other cities – including Washington DC in the US and Vilnius in Lithuania – have renamed areas outside Russian embassies after Nemtsov.