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.
Experts from Europe and the US met in Prague this week to discuss the hybrid war threat and ways of countering disinformation campaigns against Western countries. In an interview for Czech Radio the head of NATO’s Military Committee, General Petr Pavel, said the Czech Republic underestimates the dangers of the hybrid war waged by Russia.
Disinformation and its role was one of the themes of the latest Czech presidential elections. Re-elected head of state Miloš Zeman was cast as pro-Russian and so it was a question how much stories boosting his chances and smearing the reputations of his opponents would be used during the campaign. The jury appears to be out, though some experts believe home grown disinformation played much more of a role than anything that was imported.
The Indian journalist Inderjit Badhwar has a reputation for pursuing stories with courage and determination. His investigative writing during the more than two decades he spent in the US earned him a Pulitzer nomination. But it wasn’t his work as a journalist that brought Badhwar to Prague last month. He is also an acclaimed and award-winning novelist, writing from a perspective that crosses continents and reflects his own international life story. He was here for the Prague Writers’ Festival, during which he spoke to David Vaughan about his writing
A new Centre Against Terrorism and Hybrid Threats which is to counter false news stories spread over the social media or by propaganda outlets started work on Monday, the Czech Radio news site reported. The special unit has around 30 employees and falls under the Interior Ministry. The ministry has dismissed claims that it will involve censorship, saying that the task of the special unit will be to ensure people have access to additional, relevant information to supplement the propaganda campaigns disseminated on the Internet. The decision to establish such a center came in the wake of a security audit ordered by the government last year.