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Russia accused of shady practices in Prague by renting out Czech owned flats to third parties

Russia accused of shady practices in Prague by renting out Czech owned flats to third parties

Russian Federation has been administering dozens of Prague flats owned by the Czech state – Ovenecká 39, photo: Tom McEnchroe
The Russian Federation has been administering hundr 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.”

Lukáš Prchal, photo: archive of Lukáš Prchal
A number of the flats are also listed on tourist websites such as
bookings.com, where foreigners looking to stay in Prague for a few days can
rent them out.

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.

Russian Federation has been administering dozens of Prague flats owned by the Czech state – Schwaigerova 39, photo: Tom McEnchroe
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.”