Czech political parties’ campaigns for this week’s European Parliament
elections are in the main non-transparent, says the local branch of
Transparency International. The majority are negligent when it comes to
publishing data on financial and personnel issues and only fulfill legal
obligations in a formal manner, the anti-corruption group said after
monitoring 11 of the groups standing.
Transparency International said only the Pirates, Christian Democrats and Allies for Europe (a joint ticket of TOP 09 and the Mayors and Independents) were fully transparent. The opposite was the case with Tomio Okamura’s Freedom and Direct Democracy, which even refused to divulge its total campaign budget, TI said.
The Interior Ministry wants to focus on hate speech on social networks and
sites spreading fake news, according to its 2018 report on extremism and
priorities outlined for the future.
The ministry says verbal expressions of racism and xenophobia are concentrated around sites featuring fake news, conspiracy theories and disinformation.
It wants to launch a counter-offensive in the form of a campaign based on reliable information on migration and integration of foreign nationals in Czech society.
This time of year, everyone is naturally taking stock of 2018 – the highs and lows of the past year – and what may lie ahead. Meanwhile, in Brussels, the EU’s direct initiative to identify, debunk and counter Russia’s disinformation campaign has come out with a list entitled “What did not happen in 2018?”
A group of students has criticised that fact that Jiří Ovčáček, the
spokesperson of President Miloš Zeman, was invited to give a lecture at a
university. The head of a faculty at Prague’s University of Economics
invited Mr. Ovčáček to speak about fake news and introduced him as
“the most educated” presidential spokesperson ever.
However, the student Facebook group Club of Young Political Scientists said that inviting Mr. Ovčáček to discuss fake news was deliberate provocation. He frequently speaks to the pro-Russian Parlamentní listy website, which has long been monitored by the Ministry of the Interior, the students said.
The latest annual report of Czech counter-intelligence service BIS has outlined a series of threats to national security in what analysts say is unusually direct, rather undiplomatic language. In particular, BIS points to efforts by Russian and Chinese spies and other actors in terms of spreading disinformation in a bid to sway public opinion, and engaging in economic espionage.
The former chairman of the NATO Military Committee, General Petr Pavel has
stressed that more needs to be done to fight hybrid attacks from Russia and
Addressing a conference on information warfare and hybrid threats currently held in Prague, General Pavel noted that while Europe’s security forces cooperated well in detecting and minimizing the danger of terrorist attacks Europe still underestimated the threat of hybrid attacks by Russia and China.
He said that in fighting the hybrid threat it was essential to explain the concept to the public, how disinformation campaigns work and how big a threat they present.
Jakub Kalenský was among the first to join the skeleton staff of the East StratCom Task Force, the European Union’s first direct initiative to identify, debunk and counter Russia’s disinformation campaigns. For the first year or so of the Task Force’s existence, established in the summer of 2015, the Czech former journalist was also the only team member devoted solely to that monumental task.
Lecturers and students at Masaryk University in Brno have developed an interactive game that focuses on teaching the ability to distinguish between disinformation and trustworthy news. The length of one game is especially taylored to fit into an hour of teaching at school and its developers hope that it will be implemented by schools, orphanages and old age homes.
The office supervising the finances of political parties and movements has
fined 13 political parties and movements, 14 coalitions and 8 independent
candidates for lack of transparency in reporting on money spent on
campaigning in the recent Senate elections.
The irregularities concern the information made available to the public regarding the amount of money and the manner in which it had been spent.
Altogether the fines amount to 280,000 crowns. The office has not revealed the names of the parties or candidates who were found lacking.
The Czech branch of the anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International
has released a report on which parties and candidates for the Senate have
conducted the most transparent campaigns.
According to the report, the campaigns of the Pirates, Greens, Party of Mayors (Stan), and Top 09 have been the most above board. Among the 135 individual candidates, Transparency International named six stand-outs: Eva Tylová, Libor Michalek, Jiří Kratky (all of the Pirates), Zdeněk Hraba (for STAN) and Herbert Paver (TOP 09).
Among the criteria were whether the candidates had made public their campaign revenue and budget, and the names of members of their teams.