- Hans Weber
- December 4, 2023
Czech Security Service Exposes Russian Agent Spreading Propaganda About Ukraine War
Michal Koudelka, the Chief of the Czech Security Information Service (BIS), has revealed that a long-term Russian agent operating in the Czech Republic was paid to disseminate Russian propaganda concerning the war in Ukraine. Koudelka made this revelation during a conference on disinformation held in the Chamber of Deputies.
Specifically, Koudelka stated that this influential agent, acting at the behest of high-ranking Russian authorities, played a key role in promoting narratives that aligned with Russia’s foreign policy interests regarding the conflict in Ukraine. The agent’s activities were focused on disseminating these narratives in the public sphere and, alarmingly, involved the manipulation and exploitation of public personalities for this purpose.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala commended the work of the security services in addressing the influence of Russian agents within the country. Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Vit Rakusan emphasized that while this case was exceptional in the Czech context, it warranted the utmost attention from the security services. He noted that specialized police departments were actively involved in cooperation with the services and that the investigation would continue should those involved be identified. Rakusan refrained from disclosing further details or revealing the identities of the prominent figures implicated in spreading the propaganda.
Fiala highlighted that the operation of Russian propaganda and disinformation channels within the Czech Republic had been a persistent concern. He expressed satisfaction with the professionalism demonstrated by all security forces in countering the influence of Russian agents. The Czech Republic has long regarded itself as a target of Russian intelligence and propaganda.
Koudelka also revealed that BIS had been monitoring Russia’s efforts to extend its influence in the Czech Republic during the presidential campaign in January. This monitoring included the dissemination of fake videos by the Russian state media channel Sputnik, which featured misleading statements attributed to the eventual winner of the presidential election, Petr Pavel, advocating Czech involvement in the Ukraine conflict.
The BIS chief further highlighted that disinformation efforts from Russia included the recruitment of individuals for the Wagner mercenary group in the Czech Republic, an operation originating directly from Russia. These disinformation campaigns aimed to serve internal Russian propaganda, erode Czech public support for Ukraine, and potentially destabilize Czech state institutions and security forces.
Even before the war in Ukraine, BIS had identified the activities of a pro-Russian agent who worked with selected journalists to accentuate Russian propaganda in the Czech Republic. This agent not only financed foreign trips for journalists but also encouraged them to produce material aligned with Russian interests. Additionally, BIS noted direct Russian efforts to establish relations with one of the organizers of anti-government demonstrations in the autumn of 2022.
Koudelka concluded by stating that the disinformation environment in the Czech Republic primarily operated spontaneously and lacked centralized control, drawing inspiration from narratives that favored Russia’s interests. This revelation underscores the ongoing challenge of combating disinformation and foreign influence in the modern information landscape.
Article by Prague Forum