Czech Military Research Institute director fired over Novichok scandal

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Novichok nerve agents were developed and tested for research purposes in 2016 in the Czech Republic (photo: www.vvubrno.cz)

Czech Defence Minister Karla Slechtova fired the director of the Military Research Institute (VVU) Bohuslav Safar, the Czech Defence ministry announced on its website on Monday.

Safar was criticised by prime-minister Andrej Babis over his comments following the incident with former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury. The ministry did not give the reason for Safar’s firing.

Bohuslav Safar (on the right), director of the Czech Military Research Institute (VVU), was fired after his statement that Novichok was developed at VVU in 2016 for laboratory tests.

In March when Moscow said the Novichok nerve agent allegedly used against the Skripals may have originated in the Czech Republic , Safar confirmed that poisonous substances were produced in the Czech Republic solely for laboratory purposes to test their properties and in a very small amount of some grams only.

Military experiments involving Novichok were performed at VVU in 2016, Bohuslav Safar confirmed in March following the Salisbury alleged nerve agent attack in the UK. (photos: www.vvubrno.cz)

Safar said since only grams were involved, this was no production, but “laboratory preparation of a small amount” for the testing of its qualities.

Safar’s statement was quoted by Czech President Milos Zeman in connection with his own statement that Novichok really was produced in the Czech Republic. VVU is a state institute run by the Czech Defence Ministry. Safar did not comment on his dismissal. He said the minister has the right to dismiss the VVU director and she used her right, hence, he could not comment on her decision.

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