Author`s name Lyuba Lulko

Good soldier Svejk sinks his dirty fingers in the Russian pie

Bulgaria and the Czech Republic find the Russian trail in explosions at their ammo depots. Meanwhile, those explosions cover up their illegal arms deals with belligerent nations.

What happened at the Czech ammo depot

Bulgarian arms company EMCO, owned by businessman Yemelyan Gebrev, released documents via Bellingcat that indirectly confirmed the guilt of the Czech side in the 2014 Vrbetice blasts.

EMCO reacted after Czech President Milos Zeman confirmed the presence of the Bulgarian trail in the Vrbetice explosions. Czech intelligence services concluded that there were EMCO ammunition at the warehouses. Gebrev confirmed, including to The New York Times, that his weapons was indeed at the warehouse, but this did not mean that it was Gebrev's weapons that exploded.

EMCO also clarified in a letter to the Bulgarian prosecutor's office that it had no knowledge about other weapons at  warehouses of Czech company Imex, nor did they know who let the "Russian agents" into the warehouses, and what they were "inspecting" there.

The documents released to Belingcat evidence that in the letter to EMCO dated October 3, 2014, 13 days before the explosion, Czech partners from Imex insisted on  a plan to remove Gebrev's weapons from the warehouse due to a debt in payment. Otherwise, they threatened that they would sell them to their anonymous clients (possibly to Ukraine).

The list of weapons clearly indicates that it goes about shells for 152-mm Soviet-made howitzers and 122-caliber mortar shells.

On October 7, a letter in response to Imex stated that EMCO was not going to sell its property.

"If Imex is unable to continue to store our property, we will deliver this service to another Czech company," the document says.

Nothing was said about any payment debt. It just so happens that the relations between the two parties were illegal.

One may assume that the Czechs nevertheless sold the ammunition, and then staged an explosion so as not to share it with Gebrev. Quite in the spirit of the good soldier Švejk.

Here is another option: the Czech authorities (not the top administration, of course) covered up the "negligence," because, as the Czech law stipulates, the state should track the final point of arms shipment. In addition, an arms deal cannot be anonymous.

German publication World Economy indicates that according to its sources, it was anti-personnel mines (banned by the international convention) that exploded at the warehouse as a result of improper storage. Is it Russia that should be held accountable for all this?

Does Russia profit from Czech explosions?

As for the role of the Russians, in 2014, when the explosions were being investigated into, it was stated that the ammunition warehouse was actually a storage area consisting from ten to up to 100 separate buildings — "barracks" that were placed at a considerable distance from each other for security reasons.

Investigation established that a fire broke out in one of them, and an explosion occurred about two hours later. The fire was quickly extinguished. All other warehousing facilities were left intact.

All the above raises many questions:

  • Did Petrov and Boshirov risk their lives to set fire to one of the barracks instead of blowing it up?
  • Did they act so to let the fire be quickly extinguished?
  • What was the point of the act? Was it worth it at all?

The shady story suggests that the Czechs did not keep their noses clean when handling those weapons at those warehouses. It also suggests that they were selling those weapons bypassing their own and international laws.

The Bulgarians were not better.

Bulgaria also sells weapons illegally

Bulgarian journalist Dilyana Gaytandzhieva spoke about this in 2016. At a warehouse of al-Nusra terrorist group in Aleppo (the organization is banned in Russia), she found boxes with 122-mm Grad missiles. Those boxes arrived in Aleppo from Bulgaria.

Gaytandzhieva was puzzled with the indifference that the Bulgarian authorities showed to the results of her investigation. Employees of the Bulgarian special services held a conversation with her, and that was all they did. That was a violation of the European moratorium on arms trade with "rebels" in Syria, which was enough and necessary to bring those responsible to justice. None of that happened.

One may easily explain the "indifference" of the Bulgarian authorities — they knew about Gebrev's dirty deals and covered them up. Only the lazy would not talk about the corruption of the Bulgarian politicians. That is why Bulgaria followed the path of their Czech "colleagues" and found the "Russian trail" in the explosions at their warehouses in 2011-202.