Czech Senate recognizes Russian actions in Ukraine as genocide

The upper house of the Czech parliament passed a resolution Wednesday urging the government to recognize suspected war crimes in Ukraine as genocide.

“We criticize the crimes that Russian troops are committing in this operation, which are war crimes,” Senator Pavel Fisher told lawmakers in the Czech Senate, adding that “because they are based on ethnicity, language, affiliation, place of residence, [they] basically bear the hallmarks of genocide.”

The motion, which passed by 55 votes to 1, follows similar moves by Lithuanian lawmakers Tuesday — they also recognized Russia as a “terrorist state” — and Estonia in late April. Outside Europe, only Canada’s parliament has labeled Moscow’s actions as genocide.

The move comes as Ukraine prepares to launch its first war crimes trial, with three Russian prisoners of war accused of raping and murdering civilians set to face a court hearing. Kyiv’s Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said more than 10,700 crimes by Russians have been registered since the war began in late February.

Responding to the resolution, Ukraine’s ambassador to the Czech Republic lauded the senators. “The Czech Senate has just recognized … the genocide of the Ukrainian people,” Yevhen Perebyinis wrote on Facebook. “Thank you!”

Genocide is defined by the U.N. as a “proven intent on the part of perpetrators to physically destroy a national, ethnical, racial or religious group” under the Genocide Convention, a treaty signed by over 150 countries largely in response to the Second World War.

Many countries, including the U.S., have so far been reluctant to label Russian actions in Ukraine as genocide because the treaty also encourages concrete action (saying they “shall be punished”) against those carrying out genocide that could risk further escalation of the conflict.

The resolution also calls for the Czech government to “accelerate” military support to Kyiv, to support Ukraine in gaining EU candidate status, and to back the country’s complaints against Russia before the International Court of Justice.