Czech Spies to Counter Energy Threat

PRAGUE -- The Czech government wants the country's intelligence service to recruit more spies this year because of Russia's growing energy muscle, according to an Interior Ministry document.

The center-right Cabinet has been keen to protect the Czech Republic's energy sector from the might of Russia, its main oil and gas supplier, since coming to power in January last year.

The document, obtained by Reuters, proposed boosting spy ranks by 46 new operatives and analysts to counter growing security threats.

"The office has to increase its analytical and operative capacities ... when supplies and prices of oil and natural gas are becoming tools of Russia's foreign policy, including attempts to control or use key Czech energy firms," the document said.

The Czechs, as well as their other former communist neighbors, are more dependent on Russian energy supplies than Western Europe. Russian companies do not own any significant Czech energy firms, however.