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Issue #2
Online sources of disinformation in the Czech Republic and Slovakia

No, quarantine is not a tool for manipulation of the elections. No, the investigation and the subsequent accusation of the Russian Federation in the case of shooting down the MH17 flight are not unobjective and baseless. These are only a few examples of overt disinformation published on Czech and Slovak websites last month.

What do those online platforms have in common? Amongst other things, the regular reproduction of Russian narratives, one-sidedness, and low level of objectivity. Sometimes they publish blatant conspiracy theories, but they also clearly promote of the official lines of the Kremlin.

Case in point: The Slovak website Extraplus. The news agency “informed” its viewers about the protests in Russia following the constitutional referendum. But its text fawns over Russian President Putin and the author claims that Putin won triumphantly despite the opposition campaign in the media.

Similarly, another Slovak channel Hlavné správy (Main News) legitimized the regime in Russia by claiming that the changes in the Russian Constitution, which will enable Putin's lifelong leadership, are a celebration of the perfect sovereignty of the Russian Federation and will ensure social welfare in the country. Those narratives are often contrasted with the alleged loss of sovereignty of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, which are described as “vassals of the imperialist West."

Infamous for not only pro-Kremlin disinformation, but also anti-Semitism, the Czech website Aeronet uses similar rhetoric. But it goes even further, presenting Czech anti-governmental protests and any other similar movements in Europe and the United States as part of a global conspiracy aiming at world domination.

It is noteworthy that what happens on a disinfo website does not stay on a disinfo website. Content published on disinformation websites is often spread further on social media, but also via chain e-mails, especially to the elderly population.

And the award goes to…

Czech and Slovak authors of disinformation recognize each other’s “genius”. Last month, the Kramerius Award ceremony took place for the second year, organized by the Association of independent media (Asociace nezávislých médií), which brings together consists of the main personalities active on the disinformation scene. This nefarious network is led by Stanislav Novotný, who regularly appears in Russian state media. Seven people from the Czech Republic and Slovakia were awarded, including Jan Keller, a former member of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia and a Czech social democratic MEP. Most of the awardees regularly contribute to disinformation platforms in the two countries.


While the above-mentioned examples of disinformation narratives are not illegal, they have the potential to undermine public trust in democratic institutions and quality media. Governments should set up systems for regular monitoring of disinformation to respond to stories that may go viral with their own positive narratives and strategic communication. Strategic communication units should be established at relevant ministries and coordinated on the governmental level.

It is highly troubling that disinformation websites and platforms are being legitimized not only by fringe personalities and conspiracy theorists but also by politicians. Non-governmental organizations should monitor such behavior, including original contributions to those websites and interviews politicians give to these platforms and call it out publicly.

The private sector can contribute as well since most of the disinformation websites make money by online advertising. Businesses can cut off their brands to harmful and disinformation narratives and limit a crucial source of revenue for disinformers. Some companies are already on board in both the Czech Republic (NELEŽ) and Slovakia (

This newsletter includes outputs from the project of the European Values Center for Security Policy focused on training non-governmental sector representatives, including investigators and bloggers from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland. More information can be found on our website.

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European Values Center for Security Policy

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