An alleged Russian plot to murder mayors in Prague is false, according to the Czech Republic's prime minister.
Still, Prague has ultimately managed to blame Russians for the scare, expelling two diplomats on Friday despite the lack of any evidence against them.
In April, Respekt newspaper cited security sources as saying that a Russian national using a diplomatic passport had arrived in Prague carrying ricin, a toxic poison that can be used as a biological weapon.
Moscow, suspected in the 2018 poisoning in Britain of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter with a nerve agent, has said the alleged poisoning plot against the three Czechs was part of a "disinformation campaign" aimed at discrediting Russia and threatened "serious consequences" to Czech-Russian relations.
"The whole case arose as a result of an internal struggle between employees of the Russian embassy in Prague, when one of them sent deliberately made-up information to the Security Information Service (BIS) about a planned attack against Czech politicians", he said.
"We have adopted appropriate and adequate measures and declared two embassy staff personae non gratae".
Russia's embassy in Prague condemned the expulsions as a "fabricated provocation" and said it was based "since the start on unfounded media allegations". The foreign ministry went further, warning that Prague's actions would be considered by Russian Federation with a view to future relations too.
"A tit-for-tat response will certainty follow", Dzhabarov said.
In February, a Prague square in front of the Russian Embassy was renamed after slain Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, with Mr Hrib unveiling the new nameplate.
Mr Kolar, Mr Hrib and the mayor of Prague's Reporyje district, Pavel Novotny, all consequently received police protection.
Speaking to the state-run RIA Novosti news agency, Bryukhanov said one was Andrei Konchakov, the interim head of Rossotrudnichestvo's Czech branch.
Babis cited intelligence as showing the hoax was the result of infighting at the Russian embassy.
Czech media have previously reported that Konchakov arrived in Prague in March, suggesting he was the supposed man with ricin in his suitcase.
The Russian Embassy called the expulsions of the diplomats an "unfriendly step" that shows Prague is not interested in normalizing already tense relations between the two countries.
"The Czech Republic has invented this 'ricin scandal, ' a mean story out of a cheap thriller".
Czech Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek also said the situation reached a point where it could not be resolved in any other way.