Polish Woman Faces Five Years in Prison for Praising Putin, Russian Invasion of Ukraine
A 59-year-old woman in Poland is facing up to five years in prison for posting pro-Russian sentiments on Facebook last year.
Marzena T. appeared this week before a court in the city Wrocław accused of praising a “war of aggression”, which can come with a hefty five-year prison sentence in Poland, which like most European Union member-states does not have First Amendment-style freedom of speech protections.
The 59-year-old teacher was accused of writing posts on her Facebook page praising the Russian invasion of Ukraine between February and May of last year, the Polish Press Agency (PAP) reported.
In the posts, which were read before the court by Judge Artur Kosmala, she said: “I believe in the victory of Russia and help us Slavs, thank you in advance and pray for Russia”.
“For freedom, this is what Putin is fighting for his people,” the teacher also wrote, going on to claim that “President Putin leads all nations oppressed by Zionism, he leads all Slavs, maybe Poland will free itself from the power of these torturers”.
She also claimed that war was manufactured as a “pretext” to send refugees to Poland.
At the court, Marzena pled not guilty, claiming that her posts were triggered by a “fear of war and fear for children”.
“I am against war. Putin’s message before the outbreak of war did not show that he was striving for it. There was only talk that the rules were violated and NATO troops approached the borders of Russia,” she explained.
The judge in the case commissioned a psychiatrist to determine whether she was sane during the time in which she was accused of writing the Facebook posts, with the trial being suspended until such a determination is made.
Support for the Russian war effort has also been criminalised in other countries, with several states including Germany, for example, making it a criminal offence for pro-Russian activists to use the letter ‘Z’, which has since become a rallying symbol after Russian forces used a similar marking on their vehicles during the invasion to avoid friendly fire.
Meanwhile, a 68-year-old grandmother in Ireland was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison for causing a “scene” at a hotel that has been housing refugees from Ukraine. The court in Cork heard that Margaret Buttimer, 68, had confronted some of the refugees in the Munster Arms Hotel, reportedly shouting that they were “rapists and criminals”, the Irish Examiner reports.
“She wanted to know how many Ukrainian nationals were staying in this hotel, what was the cost to the Irish people, and saying ‘these Ukrainians are rapists and criminals’,” said Detective Garda Nigel Whelton, who attended the January 26th incident.
Buttimer, who is currently homeless, denied making the claims, but did admit that she had gone to the hotel to question if the refugees had been vetted.
The 68-year-old woman had 13 previous convictions, including for violating lockdown restrictions and for past incidents at the same hotel.
“I suspect that she has been influenced by others, some of them are close to her and who have a warped and non-conformist agenda,” the judge said, adding: “She is a pity, but she is also obliged to behave.”