Czech sentenced to 21 years for terrorism on side of Russian-led Donbas militants
The Municipal Court in Prague
In passing sentence on 4 January 2022, presiding Judge Silvie Slepičková said that there was no doubt that Sukup had gone to Ukraine and joined what she termed separatist groups. This was amply proven by witness statements; by Sukup’s own boasting on social networks, for example about medals for the so-called ‘liberation of Donbas’; by photos as well as by media articles. He is believed to have held various positions in the so-called ‘DPR military’, including as a tank driver and the commander of a tank unit, from June 2014 to at least May 2018. The prosecution added that he had fought in the battles for Kramatorsk and Horlivka, in which around a thousand Ukrainian soldiers had been killed. Such active participation fell within the definition of a terrorist attack, public prosecutor Marek Bodlák said.
All of this was denied by Sukup’s lawyer Klára Tvrdá who asserted that her client could have just gone to Donbas “to begin a new life” after the break-up of his family and a prosecution for insurance fraud. She asserted that the charges were based on newspaper articles and Sukup’s statements on social networks, and that the latter could have been “exaggerations” or written by somebody else.
It remains to be seen what the court of appeal will think of these arguments. It is certainly difficult to dismiss something as merely a media report if the said publication is
The term of imprisonment stipulated in the Criminal Code is 12 to 20 years, however, in handing down a 21-year sentence, Judge Slepičková said that the court had taken into consideration Sukup’s abuse of the command skills he had obtained while in the Czech army, as well as the fact that he took part in the fighting much more actively than others who were charged in similar cases.
As reported, on 22 July 2021, the High Court in Prague significantly increased the sentence passed on Alexei Fadeyev [in Czech: Alexej Fadějev] a 42-year-old Belarusian, currently serving a separate sentence, for fighting on the side of the Russian-led militants in Donbas. The High Court agreed with the Public Prosecutor that Fadeyev was guilty of terrorism and increased the original four and a half year sentence to 21 years. This is of particular importance as the first court had found him guilty of taking part in a criminal gang and had disputed the legal qualification of the crime as an act of terrorism.
On 8 September 2021, 27-year-old Lukáš Nováček
In Nováček’s case, like Sukup’s, he incriminated himself, with photos and videos from his mobile phone which show him in fighting gear and carrying a weapon. Like Sukup, he can be heard on one of the videos repeating ‘Russian World’ narratives to Russian propagandists. On this occasion, he says that he came to Donbas because he wanted to fight “Ukrainian fascists”.
Nováček’s appeal against the sentence is due next week.
In September 2021, the Czech authorities, seemingly in cooperation with Ukraine, arrested Aleksandr Franchetti, a former Russian paramilitary who played a significant role in Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea.