Russia accuses Prague of 'illegal' move against its embassy, pledges action

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zakharova attends a news conference in Moscow

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia on Thursday said a move by the Czech government to cancel Soviet-era decrees that granted the Russian embassy free use of land in Prague and other cities was illegal and pledged to take measures to defend its own interests.

Prague acted on Wednesday, rescinding orders granting Russia the use of dozens of plots of lands in the 1970s and 1980s by the country's then Communist rulers, saying Moscow would now have to pay to lease the land.

Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry, accused Prague of turning its back on "a civilised dialogue" and of being in thrall to anti-Russian sentiment.

"The Czech authorities' demand for rent, even for backdated rent, resembles extortion at a state level and violates the provisions of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961," said Zakharova.

"We will take defensive measures, including legal ones."

Prague has strongly supported Ukraine's efforts to drive Russian troops from its territory, supplying it with military aid.

(Reporting by Reuters reporters; Editing by Andrew Osborn)