Russian disinfo campaign blames Ukraine for shooting death of Slovakia’s prime minister

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Russia Today editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan further blamed Ukraine for the attack, saying in a comment on her Telegram channel: “The Slovak prime minister has been injured. Which said the war started as a result of the rampages of Ukrainian neo-Nazis and Putin had no other choice. That’s how they work.”

Logically, a company that tracks disinformation campaigns, assessed more than 100 Russian-language pro-Kremlin Telegram channels and found that they were uniformly claiming that the attack was motivated by Fico’s “pro-Russian stance”, while also claiming that It was reported that Western media outlets were justifying the attack. Due to FICO’s lack of support for Ukraine.

The Telegram channel of military blogger Mikhail Zvinchuk, which has 1.2 million subscribers, claimed it was highly likely that the attack on Fico would reveal a “Ukrainian trail.” The post has been viewed more than 300,000 times. The official Telegram channel of Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova claimed that Fico “is known as a friend of Russia.”

“It is likely that Russian-language channels and Russian disinformation campaigns will use Fico’s assassination attempt as a new topic to make claims that the West supports violence against pro-Russian politicians, and more broadly. It will expand on the pre-existing narrative by which the world is broadly engaged in ‘Russophobia,'” Kyle Walter, director of research at Logically, tells WIRED.

Speaking from Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, Dominika Hajdu, policy director at the think tank GlobeSec, says most of the posts on X linking the murder to Ukraine were in English, not Slovak. “As with the assassination attempts, I have not seen any accusations in Slovaks (on social media) linking the assassination to Ukraine or Russia.” She says these English-language posts reflect a target audience of international users, not Slovaks.

Fico is a divisive figure in Slovakia, a small EU country located between Austria and Ukraine. Fico, 59, considered friendly to Russia, was re-elected for a third term in October, after a campaign in which he called for withdrawing military support for Ukraine and said he would never support the idea of ​​LGBTQ marriage. Can’t support. Since his Smr-SD party won the election, he has proposed closing the country’s anti-corruption office and has been accused of cracking down on civil rights groups and limiting press freedom.

“The typical supporter of the current government is mostly rural, usually an older electorate, who is not very thrilled with how things are going with their economic success,” says Sona Muzikarova, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council who focuses on Central and Eastern Europe. Changed.” “On the other side is a more liberal, a little more aware, pro-EU, pro-West, urban voter.”

More liberal voters were unhappy with the return of Fico, whose last term in power ended with his resignation in 2018 following huge protests over the murder of journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kusnirova, who had been exposing government corruption.

“He was voted in through the democratic process, but still a large part of the population is very unhappy with having such a person leading again,” says Muzikarova.

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