People in the Czech Republic could face up to three years in jail for justifying Moscow’s conflict with Kiev, authorities warn
Czech law enforcement is dealing with a growing number of cases linked to the public approval of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, the iRozhlas media outlet reported on Saturday, citing police data. The EU nation’s authorities have made it a crime to publicly express support for Moscow in its conflict with Kiev.
The Czech Public Prosecutor’s Office warned in February 2022 that endorsing Russia’s military operation in Ukraine at demonstrations or online, as well as praising or supporting senior Russian officials, can be treated as ‘approval of a crime’, or “denying, questioning, approving or justifying a genocide” under the Criminal Code.
Police say they have investigated hundreds of complaints related to these types of actions since the beginning of the conflict. The number of criminal cases opened over public endorsements of Russia has reached 384, Police Spokesman Ondrej Moravcik told iRozhlas. Almost 100 people have been charged, he added.
According to the spokesman, the courts have already passed judgment in some of the cases. The official did not reveal how many cases reached the courts or if anyone has received a prison sentence for expressing support for Russia. According to Moravcik, the police stop following these cases after handing them over to the prosecutor’s offices for indictments.
Under the Czech Criminal Code, the crime is punishable by up to one year behind bars. Those found guilty of denying or justifying “genocide” could spend between six months and three years in jail.
The Czech authorities have faced heavy public criticism over its support for Kiev and its ties to the US. In September, around 10,000 people took part in a rally in the capital, Prague, demanding the government resign due to its pro-Western policies.
The demonstration was organized by the opposition Law, Respect, Expertise (PRO) party. The protesters demanded that Prague veto any attempts by Ukraine to join NATO, adding that the Czech Republic should withdraw from the US-led bloc.