Czech Far-Right Groups Push Pro-Kremlin Narratives, Says Report
Extremist and xenophobic populist movements were influenced by several events in the last year with the potential for radicalization, such as rising prices, the energy and migration crises, and the war in Ukraine. Photo credit: Freepik.
Prague, May 6 (CTK) – Certain right-wing extremist groups in the Czech Republic have become part of the disinformation community that supports pro-Kremlin narratives, and various quasi-media projects in the country have also become instruments of pro-Russian propaganda, according to a report by the Czech Interior Ministry on extremism in the country in 2022.
The report says that extremist and xenophobic populist movements were influenced by several events in the last year with the potential for radicalization, such as rising prices, the energy and migration crises, and the war in Ukraine.
Some extremist entities with a right-wing orientation, such as the National Democracy party and the Workers’ Party, can be considered part of a community that aligns with and promotes the Kremlin’s official narrative, the report says.
“These are entities that help spread ideas generated by official Russian propaganda for the Central European region,” the ministry writes. However, it considers both entities marginal.
With the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, disinformation media and conspiracy theorist websites moved away from publishing material related to the pandemic, migration and the alleged “Islamization” of Western countries, and began prioritising material related to the war, the report says. This was relatively restrained in the early days of the occupation, but they eventually began to replicate pro-Kremlin propaganda in full force, the report explained.
The ministry wrote that the Russian regime began preparing media products that could easily be disseminated.
“Part of the pro-Kremlin propaganda is an attempt to break the unity of the international democratic community, also by pointing out the alleged mistakes and weaknesses of the West. An integral part of this effort is the planting of xenophobic and conspiratorial topics,” the ministry wrote.
It noted that similar tactics were used in the media in relation to Ukrainian refugees as were previously used in relation to Muslim migrants.
“Ukrainians fleeing the war have been portrayed as ungrateful, spoiled people who come to the Czech Republic only for benefits. There were also claims that their ranks included mafiosi, Africans, Muslims, terrorists from the Islamic State, and so on,” the ministry writes in the report, adding that Ukrainian Roma were also a frequent target of attacks.
Anti-Muslim sentiments did not escalate last year, the report says. The Czech Republic was a transit country for migrants, and there were no situations that extremists could abuse to incite hatred. Attacks against Ukrainians were recorded in the country, as well as, less frequently, against Russians.
Attacks against the Roma occurred less frequently than in previous years, but attacks against Jews are becoming more frequent, reflecting anti-Semitic theories spread by disinformation media, the report concluded.
Xenophobic politicians have been showing great flexibility in looking for “enemies”, the report says. Many of them moved from criticism of alleged Islamization, through criticism of alleged coronavirus totalitarianism, and after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, to a more intensive copying of the pro-Kremlin narratives concerning the conflict in Ukraine. Such flexibility is also shown by the most prominent entity of the extremist scene, the opposition Freedom and Direct Democracy party (SPD).
During the coronavirus pandemic, a segment of the Czech population developed into an anti-systemic movement, who trust neither the state nor the principles on which it is based, and feel that their voice is not heard in the current situation and the current regime. Conspiracy theories are an alternative belief system for them, says the report, adding that these people are becoming more and more isolated from society.
It added that conspiracy theories often include xenophobic motives, and propagandists for other countries and quasi-media platforms are able to easily manipulate these theories.
Quasi-media platforms and accounts on social media have established a trend of aggressive discourse, normalised disinformation, and have a strong radicalization potential, the report says. The recent success of the protest group around activist Ladislav Vrabel indicates that it is rather easy to mobilise members of the anti-system group via social media, the report notes.