On Monday, the Czech daily Deník N came out with a story that an official at the Russian Embassy is renting out hundreds of flats owned by the Czech state to tenants in Prague. The flats are available to the Russian state through a decades old agreement, but renting them to third persons may be breaking diplomatic rules.
The Russian Federation has been administering hundreds of Prague flats owned by the Czech state, thanks to a series of treaties that predate the Velvet Revolution. These are available for use by Russian diplomats.
However, the Czech daily Deník N has recently come out with a story showing that many of them are in fact rented to third party tenants, something that is in violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
Lukáš Prchal from Deník N is one of the two journalists that worked on the story.
“The problem is that according to the Vienna agreement, this real-estate is part of the priorities and privileges issued to diplomats and should not be used by third parties, who are not protected by diplomatic cover.”
The man whom Mr. Prchal identifies as being in charge of the scheme is Alexander Terentyev, a Russian embassy employee.
“Mr. Terentyev is the man who administers the renting of these flats. He is the one who demands payment in cash and refuses to give tenants contracts. We have mapped out a number of cases which were also investigated by Czech police.
“One case, which went all the way to court, involved the accusation that Mr. Terentyev had physically attacked one of the tenants. According to one tenant, Mr. Terentyev and his associates stole her pet in order to blackmail her to stop requesting a contract.”
Mr. Prchal says that foreign workers such as Kazakhs and Uzbekis are preferred by the management, as they are unlikely to inquire about the lack of a contract or cash payments.
Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček said the issue will be brought up at special talks which are currently being held between Czech officials and a visiting Russian delegation, but refused to comment more closely before knowing the precise details.
A number of officials from a state office that runs the administration of property abroad are accompanying the Russian delegation. It is unclear however, if any information regarding the result of these negotiations will be released publicly.
Mr. Prchal, who spoke with Mr. Petříček, says this is an important issue for the foreign minister.
“If I understand his statement correctly, he wants to get a clear picture of the situation, redraw the agreements and stop the Russian Federation from renting these flats to third parties.”
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