Jail Time for Czechs Agreeing With Russian Intervention

The supreme state prosecutor’s office of the Czech Republic has warned Czech citizens that they can be imprisoned for agreeing with Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, reports Joe Lauria.

Czech Ministry of Justice, Prague. (Packa/Wikipedia)

Similar Laws in Slovakia & Latvia

By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium New

The Supreme State Prosecutor of the Czech Republic has warned its citizens that they can wind up in jail if they utter agreement with Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine.

“The Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office considers it necessary to inform citizens that the current situation associated with the Russian Federation’s attack on Ukraine may have implications for their freedom of expression,” began a statement from the office, dated Feb. 26.

“If someone publicly (including demonstrations, the Internet or social networks) agreed (accepted or supported the Russian Federation’s attacks on Ukraine) or expressed support or praised the leaders of the Russian Federation in this regard, they could also face criminal liability under certain conditions,” the statement says.

The laws the statement cites include prohibition against “approving of a criminal offense” and “denying, questioning, approving and justifying genocide.”  The Czech Republic is a member of both the European Union and NATO.

Radio Prague International reported that police have begun to monitor online communications to look for offenders.

“The chief public prosecutor, Igor Stríž, has warned that public support for the Russian aggression against Ukraine expressed at demonstrations or on social networks can currently be considered a criminal offense. He warned citizens to respect freedom of speech and not to exceed its limits. Under Czech law support for crimes against humanity or genocide are punishable by up to three years in jail. At the same time, St?íž added that the legal assessment of such acts is very complicated.

Police Presidium spokesman Ondrej Moravcík confirmed that the police will monitor potential excesses not only at public gatherings, but also in cyberspace.”

The Czech news site TN-CZ reported that:

“Czech police are already investigating dozens of complaints from people who reported that someone had publicly approved and supported the Russian invasion of Ukraine. On Saturday, Attorney General Igor Stríž warned that he could face up to three years in prison for supporting Russian aggression, for example on demonstrations or social networks.”

According to the Ukrainian embassy in Prague, two people have already been arrested under these statutes for supporting Russia. It tweeted, according to Google’s translation:

“Czech law enforcement warns that public approval of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could be classified as a ‘crime of denial, questioning, approval and justification of GENOCIDE. There are already two first cases of detainees incriminated in this paragraph of the Criminal Code.”

 

Slovakia and Latvia Too

Slovakian television network RTV-Spravy reported:

“In connection with the Russian military invasion of Ukraine, the police warn that in some cases, imprisonment for 10 to 25 years to life may be threatened for the promotion of the war. The National Criminal Agency (NAKA) will adequately address the search for such crime on the Internet. … “Whoever in a crisis situation intends to incite peace in any way, promotes war or otherwise supports war propaganda, is punished by imprisonment for ten to 25 years or imprisonment for life,” the police pointed to § 417 of the Criminal Code.”

In Latvia,  news site Par Drasibu reported:

“This war also resonates in Latvia and the attempts of local supporters of the war to justify Russia’s aggression against Ukraine are also visible. In this regard, citizens are urged to report to the State Police and the State Security Service all statements and individuals who call for, support and justify Russian aggression in Ukraine.” 

The Latvian law appears to be more specific than the others.

“These are the articles of the Criminal Law:

  • Article 74. 1  . Justification for genocide, crime against humanity, crime against peace and war crime
  • Article 71. 1  . Call for genocide
  • Section 77 A call for an aggressive war
  • Section 78 Incitement to national, ethnic and racial hatred
  • Section 81 Call against the Republic of Latvia (For example, calls for the establishment of the Latgale People’s Republic)

As sworn lawyer Art?rs Zvejsalnieks explains: ‘Sayings such as” Occupy and destroy Kiev, turn it into dust “, as well as messages from Russian propaganda channels that” All Ukrainians are fascists “, calls to kill Ukrainians or people of other nationalities are statements about which these articles may be applied. The same goes for these types of comments on the Internet. Fisherman also adds that it is important that such calls are made in public and are clearly meant to be taken seriously. However, it is recalled that the same applies to calls to “reckon or otherwise harm the people of Russian nationality living in Latvia'”.

 Backlash

The announcement, however, has drawn sharp criticism on social media. 

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former U.N. correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and numerous other newspapers, including The Montreal Gazette and The Star of Johannesburg. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London, a financial reporter for Bloomberg News and he began his professional work as a 19-year old stringer for The New York Times.  He can be reached at joelauria@consortiumnews.com and followed on Twitter @unjoe  

34 comments for “Jail Time for Czechs Agreeing With Russian Intervention

  1. Leo Popper
    March 2, 2022 at 17:35

    I am in the Czech Republic. Talking with another good friend last night, we are both reluctant now to post our opinions on social networks in Czech or any other language. I had started work on a document in Czech about Edward Bernays and the birth of propaganda in the US. We might have posted it on social media, but decided in light of the current atmosphere, to only distribute it privately to known associates via e-mail. We are both in our fifties and while I did not experience normalization here (1968-1989) my friend did. She says, she feels like she has returned to the mid-1980’s when she was a student under Husak a Jakes.

  2. March 2, 2022 at 14:26

    Russophobia is ingrained into most people in the US, just as religion is. Biden and NATO are counting on this support to move this war forward. I am not impressed by how quickly so-called “progressive” media has morphed into savage war hawks with no ability to define nuance. The MSM media tries to hide it, but if one looks, you can find the fact and the history that produced this situation today, and it all leads to Washington D.C. and often, right to that bastion of Neo-liberalism in bread with years of neo-con loving rightwing war mongers in the Republican Party whom Joe has had a long history of voting with, and often brags about his long friendships with many of the worst.

  3. phree
    March 2, 2022 at 13:43

    On March 1, 2022, the author is still calling this an “intervention?” A “military operation?”

    Curious language choices given the rhetoric and the videos (admittedly limited) of missile strikes and fighting that have made it out.

    I suppose the U.S. going into Iraq was an “intervention” and “military operation” instead of a “war” or “invasion.”

    • Consortiumnews.com
      March 3, 2022 at 06:11

      There is no comparison at all between what the U.S. did in Iraq and
      what Russia is doing now. The U.S. launched a major invasion and long
      occupation of Iraq thousands of miles from its borders without any
      provocation at all as weapons of mass destruction in Iraq didn’t
      exist. Russia is intervening in an 8-year civil war in Ukraine sparked
      by the 2014 U.S.-backed coup in Kiev against an elected president,
      fronted by openly Nazi militia, and then launched a war against
      Russian speakers in the east who resisted the coup and defended its
      democratic choice. Thousands of people in the Donbass were slaughtered
      in part by the Nazi Azov Battalion that was incorporated into the
      Ukrainian National Guard under the direction of the Interior Ministry.
      With a Ukrainian offensive beginning against Donbass, Russia recognized the
      two breakaway provinces and intervened across its borders into the
      civil conflict to protect them, and to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine.
      The anti-Russian state the U.S. helped create is a direct threat to
      Russia, while Iraq was never a threat to the U.S. Russia made diplomatic
      overtures in December that were completely rejected. It is very unfortunate
      that it came to this and we hope the war ends very soon with a diplomatic
      settlement.

  4. Josep Bronski
    March 2, 2022 at 12:16

    The same old communist mentality is still in charge in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Kick these old tyrants out and amend their constitutions of the two countries to make freedom of speech an inviolable right as in the US.

  5. Bob Kavanagh
    March 2, 2022 at 11:31

    August 20, 1968

  6. STANISLAV ŠMÍD
    March 2, 2022 at 11:15

    I am from the Czech Republic. Recently, a real beast on me, a beast for me, a bankrupt communist military prosecutor who kept the socialist army in a state of the highest readiness to fight Western states by means of draconian punishments for defendants and the like, so this beast became the highest prosecutor in a democracy,so this cattle tried to explain to me that if I misused the word Ukraine in certain contexts, I face 3 years in prison. No bullshit about freedom, pacts, genocide. You approve – 3 years. I will not examine how I can and in what context to use this word. Given this highest state resistance, it would be vomiting. I deleted it, I don’t know what it is. Of course, dozens of statements have already emerged.Former communist MP is being investigated for an article about Putin on 18 February !!!! As they immediately began to say, before martial law. This is what Hitler did when he needed to get rid of the Communist and Social Democrat deputies in the Reichstag. So I thank the communist, occupying President Husák for preparing me for the arrival of democracy, and at the same time I apologize to all the half-stupid and stupid political commentators of this regime – they were basically right about the so-called Western democracies.The Exanpro server has been removed as misinformation. But it was a server on which former reporters and Democratic (!) Officers carried out analyzes. The word analysis precludes misinformation. Under such and such conditions, it was so, if the conditions were different, it was different. What’s wrong with that disinformation? Wouldn’t it be a problem that this server disassembled the Vrb?tice operation, as our funny secret service commander took it down? And how did Vrb?tice describe this clown and the eternal colonel laughed? But the secret service would interfere in politics! The previous service that did it was called State Security. In Germany, the GeheimeStaatsPolizei. And the most fun thing about this whole thing? We Czechs have already had double problematic approval. Approval of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. Yes, Švejk by Jaroslav Hašek. At that time, Hašek became an ingenious forecaster. And the second approval was much darker, it was the approval of the assassination of Deputy Reichsprotector Reinhard Heydrich. So suffice it to say that I approve of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, and everyone who has experienced the previous regime will immediately understand, and the younger ones will think you are an idiot. But that’s what they thought of Schweik, too.

  7. March 2, 2022 at 08:05

    This reminds me so much of what we criticized as Stalinist in my youth. Either he was not wrong then or we are not right now.

  8. rosemerry
    March 2, 2022 at 04:35

    All the Western free media seem to be doing the same, but the populations are following without even needing to be coerced. Just try reading any of the reports in any paper or site except selected few (which are now being banned eg sputnik, RT.) Nobody is permitted to express a contrary opinion or even to be Russian eg opera singers, sportspeople yet this is being supported voluntarily by what seems a majority of the populations of EU nations. Every item in “le Figaro”on 2 March was dripping with venom against Russia, and the words of Economy Minister Bruno le Maire had to be scaled back because at least a few people were shocked at the violence expressed against all of Russia.

    • March 2, 2022 at 14:22

      In the US, the people (both R’s and D’s) have from birth been brainwashed by our “Ruling Class” ministries of propaganda (i.e. the “free press”) t00 fear and demonize Russian. Russophobia is ingrained into most people just as religion is. Biden and NATO are counting on this support to move this war forward. I am not impressed by how quickly so-called “progressive” media has morphed into savage war hawks with no ability to define nuance. The MSM media tries to hide it, but if one looks, you can find the fact and the history that produced this situation today, and it all leads to Washington D.C. and often, right to that bastion of Neo-liberalism inbred with years of neo-con loving rightwing war mongers in the Republican Party whom Joe has had a long history of voting with, and often brags about his long friendships with many of the worst.

  9. pedro
    March 2, 2022 at 02:04

    So Czechs are only a typo away from 3 years in jail.

  10. Moi
    March 2, 2022 at 01:39

    MsM Headline: “Celebrated Russian conductor fired from Munich Philharmonic for supporting Putin’s invasion”

    Seems citizens in Nato countries can now be convicted of “thought crimes.” Think what we tell you to think or pay the price.

    Orwellian times indeed.

    hxxps://amp.theage.com.au/world/europe/celebrated-russian-conductor-fired-from-munich-philharmonic-for-supporting-putin-s-invasion-20220302-p5a0ur.html

  11. March 2, 2022 at 01:35

    “Article 20

    “1. Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law.

    “2. Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.”

    International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, hxxps://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/ccpr.aspx

    When ratifying the treaty, the U.S.A. proclaimed a reservation from implementing Article 20, almost certainly because of its conflict with the First Amendment’s freedoms of speech and press.

  12. renate
    March 1, 2022 at 23:57

    How can one manipulate the whole western population to think in a grove with no questions asked, who coordinates the international MSM? Who funds and organizes the demonstrations?
    There were some demonstrations against the Iraq invasion and an extremely manipulated public, but this beats all.
    Biden does not even bother to tell the nation why he is in Ukraine, why can’t he agree in writing not to attack Russia unless the US wants to attack and destroy Russia.
    Putin is fighting a defensive war, nothing else. We should not forget the sanctions imposed on Russia and the offensive weapons the west funded and delivered. And it is all about stationing nuclear weapons on the Russian border. Putin has to take action to protect the Russian people.

  13. renate
    March 1, 2022 at 23:40

    What is the reason, what are they so afraid of, after all the whole world is on their side, so they say? Maybe not the whole world only the western US vassals. Germany does not have enough autonomy to declare the Ukraine ambassador Persona Non Grata. He acts like the viceroy, demanding to get from Germany whatever they want. Trump’s Grenell acted in the same manner. Then there is President Biden and how he treats his guests, Scholz was the GUEST and Biden embarrassed him publicly at the press conference, he had to show the world that he has the authority to stop the NS2 pipeline, not the German Chancellor.
    That says it all, he called Putin a killer shortly after his inauguration. The president publically humiliated his guest before the whole world. Scholz said nothing, like a schoolboy, he stood there and took the insult from the guy who thinks he rules the world. So much hubris, arrogance from the president. He embarrassed the nation, he was the best we could get, he is not even mediocre, he makes you want to cry for the nation.

    • rosemerry
      March 2, 2022 at 04:24

      The new German militarism will cause a lot of angst among many Europeans and others, especially with the “deNazification” fears and actions of Russia in Ukraine (NOT against the Ukrainian people, as the EU and USA claim for the “Russian invasion”).

  14. stephen kelley
    March 1, 2022 at 20:40

    it seems to me a prime example of genocide is what ukraine is waging against the people in the donbass. the degree to which the west’s aggression has been ignored by many americans is mind boggling.

    • Piotr Berman
      March 2, 2022 at 00:03

      Madeleine Albright, born Marie Jana Korbelová (Czech), famously claimed that the death of 400,000 Iraqi children was “worth it”, which sounds like “justification of genocide”.

      One could argue that my proposed interpretation is a stretch. But so is “messages from Russian propaganda channels that” All Ukrainians are fascists “, calls to kill Ukrainians …”. From what I know about RT, Sputnik etc., this is extreme distortion, and thus a hint how the law can be applied.

      The practical application is intimidation of all media, and even common folks, not to dare deviating from the “war party” line.

      • March 2, 2022 at 12:05

        ” … 400,000 Iraqi children … ”

        should be “… 500,000 Iraqi children …”

        See hXXps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omnskeu-puE

  15. Anna
    March 1, 2022 at 20:27

    Here is the U.S. Ambassador to Israel Thomas R. Nides, a lifelong Democrat and former Morgan Stanley banker, lamenting the “tragedy” of Ukraine “caused by Putin”. Nides said the silver lining of sorts was “Europe and the world coming together to show in unity” against Russia… Has Mr. Thomas R. Nides noticed that the “world coming together” to protect Ukrainian Nazis who use Swastika as their symbol and who profess Nazism?

    Moreover, there are Israelis who plan “to fight alongside Ukrainians.” What kind of Ukrainians? The Banderites? These Israelis need to ask their parents and grandparents about Nazis and Banderites.
    “The 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Galician) was a World War II German military formation made up predominantly of military volunteers with a Ukrainian ethnic background. In a speech to officers of the division in Neuhammer on 16 May 1944 RFSS Heinrich Himmler commented on the murder of the Ukrainian Jews stating: “Your homeland has become so much more beautiful since you have lost – on our initiative, I must say – the residents who were so often a dirty blemish on Galicia’s good name, namely the Jews.”

    People like Mr. Thomas R. Nides and Mrs. Kagan-Nuland have shown unbelievable tolerance towards Nazi memorials in Canada. How can they attend the Arlington Memorial after their insulting behavior towards those who fell in a fight against Nazism in WWII?
    hxxps://canadiandimension.com/articles/view/why-is-a-monument-commemorating-a-nazi-ss-division-still-standing-outside-of-toronto

    • vinnieoh
      March 2, 2022 at 11:13

      One day during the ’16 presidential campaign here in eastern Ohio I was driving through our modest town and there on main street was a large snow white sparkling new Ram pickup truck with giant tires and gleaming chrome, and planted in the back an 8’x6′ flag of the army of Northern Virginia – the stars and bars of the Confederacy. The largest cemetery in this area is The Union Cemetery which was established and dedicated to receive the remains of Union soldiers killed in that war. Every small town and village in this area has an old cemetery that contains headstones of other Union soldiers who died fighting the Confederacy.

      It was a very good thing that I don’t own or carry a handgun because I was so enraged that I may have shot the driver of that truck. But it also led to some introspection: as far as our research has revealed, mine and my wife’s ancestors did not arrive here from (mostly) eastern Europe until after that war had been fought. Had they arrived before that war, to whom might they have sworn allegiance?

  16. March 1, 2022 at 20:25

    Creeping authoritarianism along with our fascist “Western” states (when we use Mussolini’s own definition) is what I thought would happen eventually, but I didn’t know what would instigate it.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw something similar here in the US soon. The demand that Russian websites or websites/new sites that critique “Western” narratives and their lies be taken off the internet is disturbing but not surprising. Freedom of speech only works if we have freedom of information, and are so-called genius Founding Fathers either knew they didn’t want freedom of information or weren’t as smart as everyone pretends they were.

    We are in dark times.

  17. Realist
    March 1, 2022 at 20:08

    So, we learn there is a thing that basically amounts to a dogma of NATO infallibility. Who knew?

    We are to believe under penalty of the law that NATO leaders could not possibly be wrong about who started the conflicts in Ukraine, who actually pushed for the war, who rejected simple peaceable solutions, who are the ones gleefully committing war crimes and who are the ones showing restraint by not attacking civilians? You are never to say such things, and probably not even think them! And, if you do think them but are hesitant to rat yourself out… you’ve got a real dilemma!

    So, where does this leave “freedom and democracy” as the cornerstones of Western civilisation, of the EU, and NATO, all so pompously superior to the alleged barbarians decamped a few miles east of them? Wow, untangling that logical conundrum will surely take the doing of an American somewhere. Maybe our philosopher king, Lord Biden, is up for the honor.

  18. Drew Hunkins
    March 1, 2022 at 19:28

    Meanwhile what purports to be the “left” in America is no different than the neo-con war hawks — vilifying Putin at every opportunity and refusing to stand against this unbelievable, dangerous and incomprehensible massive groupthink that’s washed over every single mainstream media outlet. They can’t even concede that the Washington-militarist empire was 100% instrumental in pulling off the Maidan coup.

  19. Anna
    March 1, 2022 at 19:25

    Does The Supreme State Prosecutor of the Czech Republic Igor Stríž like Swastika?
    The Ukrainian “freedom fighters” are self-proclaimed Nazis who use swastikas as their insignia.
    Is Mr. Igor Stríž planning to celebrate the “freedom fighters” by gracing the walls of his office with a swastika?

  20. Randy Torres
    March 1, 2022 at 19:03

    The world is Nazi. We just live in it. Ironic that the Czech authorities completely disregard the 12,000 to 15,000 Donbass civilian deaths at the hands of Ukrainian ethnic cleansers.

    • Eddy
      March 1, 2022 at 21:58

      Randy, it’s not just the Czechs who do the disregarding of the plight of the people in Donbass and Langansk, it seems the whole Western World has turned a blind eye to that genocide, then turns around complaining of events in Ukraine ??? W.T.F. How come we’ve never heard any of these complaints when Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Libya and Syria, were all in the same boat ? What is it, that makes Ukraine different from all these other victims of Western aggression ?

  21. Randy Torres
    March 1, 2022 at 19:01

    The world is Nazi. We just live in it. Ironic the Czech authorities completely disregard the 12,000 to 15,000 Donbass civilian deaths at the hands of Ukrainian ethnic cleansers.

  22. Paul
    March 1, 2022 at 18:57

    Keep up the Ukraine coverage. I admired a lot of what Robert Parry wrote.

  23. Dwight
    March 1, 2022 at 18:16

    Czech Republic has joined Russia in using the term genocide very loosely. Czech prosecutors to chill speech, and Russia’s UN representative to justify invasion. Both are dangerous. The latter is weaponization of human rights, and NATO countries have shown the way on that.

    • Eddy
      March 1, 2022 at 22:02

      Dwight, what “human rights” are you talking about ??? In all my 72 years and during my military service, I have never, ever witnessed anyone respecting or upholding “human rights” to their victims. Quiet the contrary. It seems “human rights” are only dragged out, when they can be used as a bludgion against someone to ensure overpowering them is achieved.

  24. jdd
    March 1, 2022 at 18:10

    And I thought it was bad here. Thank you Founding Fathers for our Constitution. Thank you Joe Lauria for this report.

  25. Altruist
    March 1, 2022 at 17:47

    Absolutely unbelievable – the Czech state is threatening to penalize expression of political opinions by prison terms of up to three years… Apparently Slovakia is calling for even longer political sentences — and like their Czech colleagues will search for “wrongthink” expressed on the internet. If these are “free, liberal democracies” I hate to think what authoritarian states may be like!

    Similar penalties were indeed imposed by the USA under Wilson in World War I against pacifists and people expressing pro-German sentiments. But the difference was that the USA was participating in a declared war. The Czech Republic isn’t party to the war in Ukraine, not is it allied with Ukraine. And the nastiest aspect is the plan to monitor e-mail and social media communication to ferret out any “wrongthink” (in this case, “crimethink” or “thoughtcrime”- Orwell was prescient).

    And “genocide” is the catch-all excuse used by all – by the Czech Republic for curbing freedom of thought and expression, by Russia for justifying the invasion of Ukraine.

  26. Toxik
    March 1, 2022 at 17:31

    Go Russia and de-nazify Ukraine! Arrest me now!

Comments are closed.