Czechs Warned They Could Be Jailed for Supporting Russia on Social Media

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European Union and NATO member-state Czechia has warned citizens who express support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including on social media, they could face prison.

“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,” warned Czechia’s Attorney-General, Igor Stříž, in an official press release.

“[F]reedom of speech also has its limits in a democratic state governed by the rule of law,” the official asserted, explaining that anyone who “publicly (including at demonstrations, on the Internet or on 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”, citing sections of the criminal code making it a crime to approve a criminal offence or deny, question, approve or justify genocide.

“We record dozens of comments in internet discussions approving the Russian invasion and the activities of the Russian army. We closely monitor the Internet environment,” the Czech police underscored in a post on their official Twitter account.

Czech public radio broadcaster Radio Prague International observed in a report on the warning that such crimes carry a penalty of up to three years in prison, but noted that Stříž had conceded that bringing charges could be complicated — leaving it unclear whether someone might be open to prosecution for merely questioning NATO’s eastward expansion, the West’s decision to back the Euromaidan coup in 2014, or the extent to which claims the Ukrainian government has mistreated civilians in Donbas might be true.

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