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Czech Republic excludes Russian energy giant from nuclear tender

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In this photo taken Sept. 27, 2011, some of the cooling towers of the Dukovany nuclear power plant rise high into the sky in Dukovany, Czech Republic
In this photo taken Sept. 27, 2011, some of the cooling towers of the Dukovany nuclear power plant rise high into the sky in Dukovany, Czech Republic   -   Copyright  Credit: AP
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The Czech government has excluded Russian energy giant Rosatom from a multi-billion euro tender for a new unit at a nuclear plant amid a diplomatic row with Moscow.

It comes just days after Prague expelled 18 Russian diplomats and announced that it was hunting two Russian nationals wanted over a deadly explosion at an arms depot in 2014. The same two men are wanted by the UK over the 2019 Salisbury poisonings.

Detectives said on Saturday that they had ascertained Russia's military intelligence agency, the GRU, had been involved in the blast in October 2014 in the eastern town of Vrbetice.

They also accused the same two men wanted by the UK since September 2018 for the Salisbury poisonings, who have since been identified as GRU agents Anatoly Chepiga and Alexander Mishkin.

Rosatom had been in the tender process for the planned €6 billion addition at the Dukovany nuclear power plant, the Czech Republic’s most expensive ever infrastructure project.

The addition of a Russian firm in the bidding provoked a row between the Czech Republic's President Milos Zeman and Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek which resulted in the latter being sacked.

Zeman has been a leading advocate of Russian bidding and the loudest proponent for purchasing Russia’s Sputnik V vaccines, something that Petricek also opposed.

Last week, the government also fired the health minister, Jan Blatny, another opponent of Russian or Chinese-made vaccines.