Public support for Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine could constitute a criminal offense in the Czech Republic, the country’s Prosecutor General’s Office has confirmed.
Igor Stříž, the current prosecutor general of Czechia, published a statement on February 26, in which he warned Putin sympathizers that support of the Russian attack or expressed support or praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin and others, could see them face criminal liability, according to Verenjnazaloba.cz.
Striz’s statement cited sections 365 and 405 of the Czech Criminal Code, which state that whoever publicly approves a crime or publicly praises the perpetrator can be imprisoned for up to a year, and that anyone who “publicly denies, questions, approves or seeks to justify Nazi, communist, or other genocide” can face a jail sentence of up to three years.
This means that “under certain conditions”, anyone publicly supporting or praising the leaders of the Russian Federation regarding the country’s attack on Ukraine could face criminal charges, including at demonstrations or even online, Striz said.
“Freedom of speech is enshrined in the constitutional law level in Article 17 of the Charter fundamental rights and freedoms,” Stříž told Czech residents, insisting that “everyone has the right to express their views in a way they consider appropriate,” but warned that limits to “freedom of speech in a democratic state” are “governed by the rule of law.”
As such, the prosecutor general urged Czech residents not to resort to public statements “that would go beyond the constitutional requirements and legal restrictions.”
The Ukrainian Embassy in Czechia tweeted that there were already two cases of detainees accused of contravening the above sections of the Criminal Code.
“We have recorded dozens of internet comments expressing approval for the Russian invasion and the activities of the Russian army. We are closely monitoring the online sphere and apologise for not responding to every sign in the posts,” Czech police tweeted.
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