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Czech Police Launch 73 Criminal Prosecutions Over Spreading of Disinformation

Vondrasek was speaking during a discussion of the development of crime and security threats. Photo credit: Freepik.

Prague, April 25 (CTK) – The Czech police have launched 73 criminal prosecutions in connection with cases of spreading false and offensive information on disinformation servers, Police President Martin Vondrasek said at a meeting of the Senate subcommittee on internal security today.

He was speaking during a discussion of the development of crime and security threats.

Vondrasek said one active security threat was the expected next wave of refugees from Asia entering the EU via the Balkan route and African refugees via the Mediterranean.

In connection with the Russian aggression against Ukraine, he said the police had seen an increase in hate speech against Ukrainians and approval of Russian crimes in Ukraine. “Criminal prosecution has been initiated on these grounds in about 70 cases so far,” said Vondrasek.

Last year, the police also recorded four cases of cyberattacks by foreign powers on servers and information systems of Czech public administration offices.

Vondrasek reported that the police had recorded about 182,000 crimes in 2022, up 19% from the previous year, but fewer than before the coronavirus epidemic, which saw restrictions on movement introduced.

The crime rate among foreigners increased by 1.2% last year, and by 0.6% among Ukrainians, he said, noting that this was a very small increase given the roughly 330,000 Ukrainian refugees registered in the Czech Republic.

Crimes involving Ukrainians took place mostly within their community, he said. The exceptions were financial crime via the Internet and people smuggling, where most of the drivers of vans transporting Syrian refugees from the Balkans to Western Europe were from Ukraine, he added.

The Interior Ministry’s asylum and migration policy department director Pavla Novotna told senators that there are currently 1.1 million foreigners in the country, about one-tenth of the population.

Novotna said the demographic structure of Ukrainian refugees coming to the country has changed in the last ten weeks. Between 2,000 and 2,500 Ukrainians are arriving per week, and half of them are refugees of working age who are coming to the Czech Republic to work. For context, she explained that 60,000 Ukrainians used to come to work in the Czech Republic every year, but that the current economic migrants can take advantage of temporary protection with benefits as war refugees.

Novotna said the Interior Ministry is preparing a new law on the foreign residence in the Czech Republic to digitise the whole process. In the case of Ukrainians, changes in the rules are also planned to stay in line with upcoming EU regulations.

In addition, the Interior Ministry is preparing an amendment to the penal code and the criminal laws concerning the use of intelligence information in criminal proceedings, and the criminalisation of acting in favour of a foreign power, so-called civilian espionage.

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