Czech Republic–Russia relations
Czech Republic–Russia relations refers to bilateral foreign relations between the two countries, Czech Republic and Russia. Relations fluctuate from a feeling of brotherhood due to shared Slavic identity, to hatred and distrust, either for religious or government-related reasons. Relations are best described as bipolar.
Both countries have a common Slavic heritage, though Russia is an East Slavic country while the Czech Republic is a West Slavic country. When relations between the competing Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches worsened, so did relations between the two, as the Czechs were mainly Catholic, and the Russians Eastern Orthodox; each tended to stand with their coreligionists. Although the Protestant Reformation occurred and had much influence in the Czech lands, removing the source of distrust, the two did not grow close until the 19th century.
During the 19th century, Russian foreign policy occasionally took a stance of supporting fellow-Slavic countries. The Czechs often resented the Habsburg rule, and the many Czechs that took part in its administration were not viewed as proof of its ethnic plurality by some, but rather simply as traitors. Following the reawakening of national consciousness among Czechs, Russia, an enemy of Austro-Hungary, was increasingly viewed as a possible savior. At the same time, there was distrust of Russia due to its Orthodox religion, and Russians also often viewed non-Orthodox Slavs as traitors, though it is to be noted that official policy only listed the Poles as traitors against Slavic values (mainly because in addition to being Catholic, Poland has a long history of fighting with Russia), and stated that the non-Polish Catholics were salvageable. This patronizing attitude however, may have disgusted many Czechs, but Russia was still viewed by many to be better than Austria (although there were also many pro-Habsburg Czechs).
After World War I, Czech lands and Slovakia formed Czechoslovakia, while Russia was transformed into Soviet Union after Bolshevik revolution. After World War II, when Communist Party of Czechoslovakia took over the control of the country, Czechoslovakia became part of Warsaw Pact with Soviet Union and other eastern European socialist countries. The relations were good (because Czechoslovakian Communist Party obeyed all orders from Moscow) until August 21, 1968, when Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia occurred. 108 Czechoslovaks died and approximately 500 were wounded as a direct result of the invasion. This invasion has stopped the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia from making democratic and liberal reforms, and politicians loyal to Moscow gained control again. This has damaged the relations between the two countries. After Velvet Revolution, dissolution of the Soviet Union, and division of the Czechoslovakia, both Czech Republic and Slovakia later joined the NATO.
The present day relations between the two countries are at their best, and many agreements have been signed. Russia also has further reduced its oil deliveries to the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic has an embassy in Moscow, and two consulates general (in Saint Petersburg and Yekaterinburg). The Russian Federation has an embassy in Prague, and two consulate generals in (Brno and Karlovy Vary).
Both countries are full members of the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
As of 2011, Czech Republic-Russian Federation relations are at very good level. On December 7, 2011, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev visited Prague, because of the signature of important economic contracts and cultural exchange. Both countries consider each other as an important economic partner.
While economic ties are good, and the Czech Republic is a common tourist destination for Russians, the Czech people themselves tend to be distrustful of Russia due to Communism and the 1968 invasion, and tend to have a negative opinion of Russians, despite the common Slavic identity and Czech atheism.
Russian Federation relations
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In its 2007 report the Czech counter-intelligence warned that espionage activity in the Czech Republic has currently reached an extremely high level and intensity. Russian secret services have worked to influence public opinion in various fields. They have also sought sensitive information on the Czech economy and contacts with politicians and state officials.