The pro-separatists DNR-News outlet issued the sensational news on August 26 under the title: “DNR Announces The Opening Of Its First Mission In The EU.”
It cited a statement from the “Foreign Ministry” of the Russia-backed separatist group in eastern Ukraine that calls itself the Donetsk People's Republic.
The dispatch said the office would not be opened in the capital, Prague, but in Ostrava, a hardscrabble eastern city known more as a mining rather than diplomatic center.
Opening an official office in any EU country would be a coup for the separatists, who control parts of Ukraine’s Donetsk region, handing them a modicum at least of desperately desired legitimacy.
And if they were to put down any type of stakes in the EU, they could do worse than the Czech Republic. Czech President Milos Zeman has frequently departed from the common EU line on Ukraine and has criticized sanctions against Moscow. Zeman, whose post is mostly ceremonial, was one of only two Western leaders (the other the president of Cyprus) to visit Moscow on May 9, 2015 during Victory Day celebrations in the Russian capital, where he even boldly predicted Russia could join the EU within 20 years.
But the separatists’ statement was more wishful thinking rather than reality. According to the Czech Foreign Ministry, the “officially registered mission” is nothing more than a club.
"The self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic cannot have an accredited diplomatic office in the Czech Republic, because the Czech Republic does not recognize [DNR's] existence and, therefore, it does not constitute an international legal subject,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Michaela Lagronova told RFE/RL on August 23. “Media reports about a so-called representative office of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic most probably refer to an association registered in Ostrava -- not an accredited diplomatic office by any means."
So far, efforts by the separatists in Donetsk – and in neighboring Luhansk, where they call themselves the Luhansk People’s Republic -- to gain recognition as independent states have come to naught. They have been recognized only by South Ossetia, a breakaway region of Georgia that itself has scant recognition in the world community.