Monday, 22 June 2020

Kremlin uses Zeman, secret services to spread influence, study says

19 August 2016

Prague, Aug 18 (CTK) - The spread of conspiracy theories, targetted misinformation as well as support expressed by Czech politicians are manifestations of a systematic disinformation campaign Russia conducts in the Czech Republic, according to a study by the European Values think tank released yesterday.
The study's authors, European Values analyst Jakub Janda and Ondrej Kundra, reporter of the Respekt weekly magazine, said the Kremlin is trying to undermine trust in democratic politicians and institutions, the EU and NATO.
"We identified the beefing-up of the positions of political allies and the use of these Trojan horses to step up internal divisions in the EU and NATO as Russia's major interests," Janda said.
Russia's other goals are the undermining of trust in opinion opponents and the departure from the EU in the long-term.
Janda and Kundra consider President Milos Zeman Russia's major political ally.
"The president of one EU member country is a valuable ally of theirs. Whatever position Russia takes, President Zeman later defends it," Janda said.
He has been a critic of Zeman's positive attitude to Russia for a long time. Zeman recently refused to react to the criticism. He does not consider him a partner for discussion because of a porn video Janda made in the past.
The study authors also claim that in addition to politicians, the Kremlin uses disinformation campaigns and friendly NGOs, it supports extremist forces, abuses the Russian-speaking minority and combines economic and political interests to influence the Czech public.
Kundra said the Russian secret services are also active.
"We do not say that every Russian living in the Czech Republic is an agent, but in any case, there are people who play a certain role in pushing through certain interests," Kundra said.
He said the secret services of other countries also definitely operate in the Czech Republic.
"However, the goals of the Russian secret services and perhaps the U.S. secret service utterly differ. The American secret services do not aim to weaken Czech democracy, but they rather try to fight terrorism," Kundra said.
The European Values think tank has been alerting to pro-Russian disinformation acitivities for a long time. Within it, the Kremlin Watch is active. Its analysts also cooperate with the institutions of the EU and the Interior Ministry.
The think tank also wants to attract attention to the danger of the Russian influence with the campaign "We Do Not Want Back to the East."
"The goal of the campaign is to explain why it is advantageous for the Czech Republic to be part of the West and mainly why it would be dangerous to move eastwards," Janda said.
"We have chosen the form of short videos. In them, about 20 experts point to certain manipulations," he added.
The campaign has been joined by political geographer Michael Romancov and former Czech ambassador to Russia and the United States Petr Kolar.
"The Kremlin supporters often have their positions well based on arguments. People then easily succumb to the impression that NATO or EU membership brings us nothing, and we want to change this," Janda said.

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