It appears that Czech President Miloš Zeman, who has notoriously been known “as one of the most influential Kremlin allies in Central Europe,” is turning his back on Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In a shocking move, the Chief Prosecutor of the Czech Republic warned that expressing support for the Russian attack on Ukraine could result in a jail sentence of up to three years in prison.
Criminalizes Pro-Russia Speech
Prosecutor General Igor Stříž said in a statement on Saturday, February 26, 2022, that public supporters of the Russian invasion of Ukraine could be sentenced to up to three years in prison.
The Prosecutor’s Office Cited Section 365 and Section 405 of their Criminal law, which states that anyone who publicly (including at demonstrations, on the internet, or social media) approves of a crime or publicly praises an offender can be imprisoned for up to one year. Furthermore, anyone who “publicly denies, asks, agrees or tries to justify Nazi, Communist or Other Genocides” could face up to three years in prison.
Freedom of Speech
The press release goes on to say that “Article 17 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms enshrines freedom of speech at the constitutional level.” Yet, many feel that Attorney Genera Igor Stříž contradicted himself when he stated, “everybody has the right to express their views in the way they see fit. However, freedom of speech also has its limits in a democratic state governed by the rule of law.”
It is more ironic that a Western nation like the Czech Republic is forcing a Marxist narrative to deny individual rights, like freedom of speech.
Prosecutor General Igor Stříž’s office appealed to all persons “not to resort to public speeches in excess of the established constitutional and legal restrictions in these difficult times.”
Police Issue Warning
According to a local news station, TN Nova, the Czech police were investigating dozens of cases by the next day. “We will carefully evaluate such conduct and thoroughly analyze whether it is such a crime,” said Ondřej Moravečič, a spokesman for the Czech Police.
Czech Police issued a warning on Twitter that, together with the Office of the Prosecutor-General, such speech, whether on cyberspace or at public rallies, will be thoroughly analyzed to see whether it fits the fact pattern of the crimes mentioned above.
Jsme připraveni zaměřit se na tuto problematiku nejen na veřejných shromážděních, ale také v kyberprostoru. Společně se státními zastupitelstvími budeme pečlivě vyhodnocovat obdobné projevy a důkladně analyzovat, zdali nenaplňují skutkovou podstatu zmíněných TČ. #policiepp https://t.co/aJwa9jBBse— Policie ČR (@PolicieCZ) February 26, 2022
Like many Kremlin proxies, Czech President Zeman has often reiterated Kremlin messages, including “denying the presence of organized Russian troops in Ukraine, arguing that Crimea is Russian, and demanding that the West lift the sanctions imposed on Russia. He is portrayed by Russian propaganda as an independent, strong anti-American leader who adores Putin.”
The Czech President has systematically aided Kremlin goals inside the Czech Republic. If the size of countries is taken into account, Zeman, the president of a country with 10 million people, is the second most quoted European leader in the Russian information space, right after German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He has also been accused of serving Chinese interests, even acquiring a Chinese advisor at the Czech Presidential Office, reports the Observer.
Zeman called Thursday’s Russian invasion “an unprovoked act of aggression.” He told his nation in an address, “Russia has committed a crime against peace.”
Until just days ago, Zeman insisted that the Russians wouldn’t attack Ukraine because “they aren’t lunatics to launch an operation that would be more damaging for them than beneficial.”
“I admit I was wrong,” he said Thursday. The Czech President has called for harsh sanctions against Russia, including cutting it out of the SWIFT financial system, which shuffles money from bank to bank around the globe.
“It’s necessary to isolate a lunatic and not just to defend ourselves by words but also by deeds,” he said.
Prague ordered the closure of two Russian consulates in the Czech Republic and stopped accepting visa requests from Russian citizens.
Putin appears to be losing one of his most important allies in eastern Europe by invading Ukraine.