Commentary V4

Czechs and Slovaks oppose Russian bill

The Czech Foreign Ministry is against a Russian bill which is to give war veteran status to troops from the occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968, which suppressed the Prague Spring reform movement.

The author of the proposal is Russian Communist MP Yuri Sinelshchikov, who participated in the occupation in 1968. However, the justification for this proposal is extremely problematic, as Russia would legitimize the invasion of the Warsaw Pact troops into Czechoslovakia by approving it.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs respects the fact that social policy issues are an internal matter of every country. However, the Ministry is seriously concerned about the justification of the proposed amendment which states that "suppressing the coup and attempting to stabilize the situation in Czechoslovakia" was the reason for intervention," said the Czech Foreign Ministry.

In its report, the Ministry also points out that the Czech Republic has signed the Treaty on Friendly Relations and Cooperation with Russia, according to which both countries should "put an end to the totalitarian past, associated with the inadmissible use of force against Czechoslovakia in 1968 and further unjustifiable stay of Soviet troops on Czechoslovak territory." The head of the Ministry, Tomáš Petříček, stated in his Twitter post, that Czechoslovakia was occupied in contradiction with international law and against the will of the majority of the Czech population.

Other MPs expressed similar negative opinions. “One can understand that the Communists need to make the occupiers veterans and heroes. But to approve the occupation of Czechoslovakia, that is unacceptable," said Jan Bartošek, member of the Chamber of Deputies. His colleague, Jan Lipavský, considers the proposal "disgusting".

Slovak politicians also rejected the proposal. Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajčák and PM Peter Pellegrini both said they are ready to open a discussion on the topic with their Russian counterparts. The future President of Slovakia, Zuzana Čaputová, also rejected the proposed bill. "The idea of legitimizing the invasion of Russian troops in any way is absolutely unacceptable," Čaputová said.

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