RussiaDecember 29 2023, 5:27 am

Disinformation Worries in Slovakia as Fico Seeks to Lift Sanctions on Russian Ally

On 19 Decem­ber 2023, the Robert Lans­ing Insti­tute report­ed that Slo­vak Prime Min­is­ter Robert Fico’s move to lift sanc­tions against Jozef Ham­bálek, who has ties to Russ­ian intel­li­gence and neo-Nazi groups, is part of a broad­er issue of dis­in­for­ma­tion in Slo­va­kia. Ham­bálek’s con­nec­tions with the Russ­ian Night Wolves and the FSB sug­gest an intri­cate link between Slo­vak pol­i­tics and for­eign influ­ence. Fico’s gov­ern­ment, seen as pro-Russ­ian, has been accused of spread­ing mis­in­for­ma­tion and hold­ing nar­ra­tives that align with Russ­ian inter­ests. This aligns with the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion’s obser­va­tions that Fico’s elec­toral vic­to­ry was sig­nif­i­cant­ly aid­ed by Krem­lin-backed pro­pa­gan­da. The dis­so­lu­tion of expert groups coun­ter­ing dis­in­for­ma­tion under Fico’s admin­is­tra­tion and the res­ig­na­tion of Daniel Milo from the Cen­ter for Coun­ter­ing Hybrid Threats high­light the grow­ing con­cerns about Slo­va­ki­a’s sus­cep­ti­bil­i­ty to Russ­ian dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paigns. These devel­op­ments point towards a wor­ry­ing trend of increased for­eign influ­ence and dis­in­for­ma­tion with­in Slo­vak pol­i­tics. In June, Slo­vak Pres­i­dent Zuzana Čaputová said she was wor­ried about the spread of dis­in­for­ma­tion in her coun­try and that if pop­ulist par­ties lead the gov­ern­ment Slo­vak for­eign pol­i­cy could be “more sim­i­lar to Vik­tor Orbán-type of for­eign policy.”


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