Prague - While Russia is experiencing the largest anti-government protests in many years, its president Dmitry Medvedev is currently hundreds of kilometers away from the Kremlin - at a two-day state visit to the Czech Republic, invited by Czech President Václav Klaus.
The key topic of Medvedev's visit in Prague is a tender for reconstruction of the Czech Temelín nuclear plant worth EUR 8bil.
Medvedev had even changed the date of his visit from Friday to Thursday in order to be able to meet also with Czech PM Petr Nečas, who will flight to Brussels later today for the all-important EU summit.
It will be the government of Mr Nečas that will decide who will be contracted for the Temelín reconstruction deal.
"I cannot imagine that Mr Medvedev would not address the Temelín tender issue during his visit in Prague, after all he has brought the CEO of Rosatom, Mr Kiriyenko," said Czech ambassador in Moscow Petr Kolář.
Sergey Kiriyenko is the head of Rosatom, the Russian atomic energy agency that is competing for the Temelín reconstruction deal via another Russian company, Atomstrojexport.
Mr Medvedev has come to Prague to try to dispel the Czech government's prejudices against the Russian bid. Even though the Russian-Czech consortium (Atomstrojexport, Gidropress and Škoda JS) has promised lucrative contracts for Czech companies in case it wins the Temelín tender, the Czech government thinks in terms of the Czech energy security, fearing an increased dependency on Russia.
President Medvedev has prepared a strong counterargument. The two countries will sign today a series of trade agreements, with contracts worth as much as EUR 3bil for Czech companies. The contracts include Czech participation on some energy and infrastructure projects in Russia in the next few years. For example, Czech suppliers will participate on the completion of a railroad in the Ural region, said Martin Hovorka, a Czech Deputy Minister of Industry.
Or, a Czech company seated in Malešice will be contracted to repair Russian helicopters owned by third countries.
Kommersant, a Russian daily, pointed out this Tuesday that the trade agreements are aimed at improving the Russian bidder's position in the Temelín tender.
Mr Medvedev visits Prague for the second time in 20 months. In April 2010, he was in the Czech capital to sign a nuclear arms reduction treaty with US president Barack Obama.