Embassy of Russia in Prague
|Embassy of the Russian Federation in Prague
Посольство Российской Федерации в Праге
Velvyslanectví Ruské Federace v Praze
|Address||nám. Pod kaštany 1|
|Ambassador||Sergey Borisovich KISELEV|
The Embassy of Russia in Prague is the diplomatic mission of the Russian Federation to the Czech Republic. The chancery is located at nám. Pod kaštany 1 in the Bubeneč neighbourhood of Prague 6 district in Prague.
History of the chancery
The building which is now the embassy chancery was bought by Jiří Popper, a Czech banker in 1927. Edvard Beneš, the then President of Czechoslovakia in exile and Jiří Popper, both of whom knew each other, fled to London on the same aircraft in 1938.
The Bubeneč Popper house and surrounding land was confiscated by the Nazi authorities on 16 March 1939, a day after their occupation of Czechoslovakia, and was subsequently used as the Prague headquarters of the Gestapo. It was in this period of time that the embassy was fitted with a series of underground tunnels which housed Gestapo archives as well as a security hallway connecting the tunnels to the embassy. In 1945, after the end of the war, the family attempted to reclaim the property, but were prevented from doing so due to the nationalisation decrees of Beneš, who returned to Czechoslovakia as President. Although Beneš was aware that the Czech–Jewish banker was still alive and intended to return to Prague, the property was granted to the Soviet Union by Beneš as a gift in thanks for the Soviet liberation of Czechoslovakia from Nazi rule. The building was used by the Soviets to accommodate the embassy of the Soviet Union to Czechoslovakia. Following this shift in ownership, the Soviets worked to integrate the tunnels and secure rooms which were added by the Nazi government. It is a widely held belief that many of these rooms were used by KGB Line X officers for means of espionage and counter intelligence.
In 1990, laws were passed in Czechoslovakia which made it possible for restitution to be offered for property which was confiscated after 1948. The Czech Constitutional Court has overturned several of the Beneš decrees and in July 2008, Lisbeth Popper, the daughter of Jiří Popper, filed suit in the Czech courts against both the Czech and Russian States seeking restitution of the property. According to the court filings, the property is valued at CZK1 billion, which in the event of the claim being successful would be paid by the Czech State. The Russian State, which assumed title to all foreign property owned by the Soviet government after the dissolution of the USSR, would also lose title of the property and a new chancery for the Russian embassy to the Czech Republic would need to be found.
The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs states that the property is protected under current Czech legislation and international law and that it dismisses any attempts by parties to claim property of the Russian state, either inside or outside of Russia.
- "Чехия". Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Russia). Archived from the original on 2011-06-14. Retrieved 2008-07-08.
- Eliášová, Kateřina (3 July 2008). "Moscow and Prague sued for post-World War II nationalization". Aktuálně.cz. Retrieved 2008-07-08.
- Kuranov, Aleksandr (7 July 2008). "Russian Embassy in Prague Reclaimed". Kommersant. Retrieved 2008-07-08.
- "Russian diplomats to be made homeless in Prague?". Russia Today. 7 July 2008. Archived from the original on 17 April 2013. Retrieved 2008-07-08.
- "Commentary by the Information and Press Department of Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs Concerning Media Reports of Claims to Land Plot of Russian Embassy in Prague" (Press release). Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Russia). 10 July 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-20.
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- (Russian) (Czech) Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Czech Republic