President of the Czech Republic calls for closer monitoring of Russians living in the West
Czech President Petr Pavel has expressed the view that, in light of current circumstances, it is necessary to closely monitor Russian citizens residing in Western countries. He made this statement in an interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
Petr Pavel emphasized the need for increased attention to be given to Russian citizens living in Western countries due to Russia's aggressive war efforts. He clarified that he was referring to the necessity of heightened surveillance by intelligence agencies.
The Czech president cited the measures taken by the United States towards the Japanese diaspora from 1942 to 1945 when over a hundred thousand Japanese Americans were interned. The U.S. government apologized to Japan for these actions in 1991.
"I believe that in times of war, heightened security measures concerning Russian citizens should be stricter than under normal conditions. All Russians living in Western countries should be more closely monitored compared to the past because they are citizens of a country engaged in an aggressive war. I feel sorry for these people, but if we look back, during the Second World War, all Japanese living in the United States were under strict surveillance. It is simply the price of war," said Petr Pavel.
Following the outrage expressed by some Russians in the West over these statements, the presidential press office issued an additional comment to clarify Petr Pavel's statement. The spokesperson specified that the president did not have internment or persecution of Russian citizens in mind but rather emphasized the necessity of increased attention from intelligence agencies to this group of individuals due to the threats Moscow has made towards Western allies over their support of Ukraine. The spokesperson stressed that "of course, each individual with Russian citizenship does not pose a threat."
Petr Pavel also addressed the issue of establishing relations with the Russian opposition and isolating Russia.
"If we look at present-day Russia, not all people are satisfied with the regime. Although support for Vladimir Putin and the war reaches 75-80 percent, what about the remaining 20 percent or more? Not all Russians are happy about the losses, the decline in living standards, the lack of resources, the reduced ability to travel, and the fact that future generations of Russians will be considered barbarians for what they have done. So, there will be an opportunity to find people in Russia who are capable of communication, who will be Russia's hope for change. But this takes time. We should not be short-sighted in completely isolating Russia. When we find someone with whom we can talk and discuss the future of Russia under different conditions, we must seize that opportunity," stated the Czech president.
June 17 marks 100 days since Petr Pavel assumed the presidency. Shortly after his inauguration in March, Pavel outlined a list of goals for this period. Czech media reports that the president has already fulfilled eight of his promises within the first 100 days in office.
Since 2021, the Czech Republic has expelled a total of 63 Russian diplomats and embassy staff, along with their families. The escalation in diplomatic relations between the two countries began in 2021 when the findings of an investigation were made public, indicating Russian agents from the GRU were involved in the explosions at Czech ammunition depots in Vrbětice in 2014, resulting in the deaths of two Czech citizens and significant material damage.