Fear-mongering and false calls for peace complement continued attacks on media and journalists Bi-Weekly Report on Emerging Disinformation Trends March 15, 2024
© Designed by Freepik presents an overview of disinformation trends that have been on the rise in the last two weeks:

  • The ruling coalition headed by Robert Fico continues its so-called sovereign foreign policy to all sides of the world. It is accompanied by fear-mongering about Slovakia's involvement in the war in Ukraine, as well as continuous false calls for peace.
  • The meeting between the Slovak and Russian foreign ministers in Turkey earned praise from the disinformation ecosystem. The aim of the rhetoric was to defend government actions that undermine the unity of the Euro-Atlantic space and are reputationally damaging to Slovakia. The disruption of the above-standard relations between the Czech Republic and Slovakia that followed this rapprochement with Russia, on the other hand, drew criticism from Slovak pro-Kremlin actors.
  • Slovak media continue to be confronted with the attacking and deceitful rhetoric from government officials. Manipulative accusations of anti-Slovak activism and warmongering are also directed at individual journalists and reporters. In addition to the public broadcaster RTVS (Radio and Television of Slovakia), the presenter of the private TV JOJ has also found herself in the crosshairs of the disinformation ecosystem.

Government fearmongering about the war in Ukraine and continued false calls for peace

The ruling coalition headed by Robert Fico operates in 2024 primarily with the phrase sovereign foreign policy on all sides of the world. However, this hides the undermining of the unity of the Euro-Atlantic structures and the gradual transformation of Slovakia into an untrustworthy EU and NATO member state.

On the second anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Robert Fico published a video in which he described the war in Ukraine as part of a Western strategy to demonise and destroy the Russian Federation. He went on to align his rhetoric completely with the narratives of Russian propaganda – citing the 2014 "rampage of Ukrainian neo-Nazis" and the expansion of NATO at Russia's expense as the causes of the war.

Among other things, in the video he accused the European Union of supporting the mutual killing of Slavs. Fico continued this rhetoric in his appearance on Radio Slovakia, where he spoke of the "complete failure" of the West's strategy and the need for a peaceful solution. He described this as the only effective option for development. In addition to glorifying Russia as an invincible power, in making similar statements Fico essentially ignores the integrity of Ukraine's borders, which he is willing to sacrifice to the aggressor.

The very next day, Fico followed up his remarks with a video informing the public about his participation at the summit in Paris. Before the meeting, he convened a meeting of the Security Council and frightened the Slovak public with the direct involvement of Slovak troops on Ukrainian territory. Although the topic of the possible involvement of Western troops did indeed come up at the summit, it was only part of the leaders' discussion – Fico manipulatively presented it in advance as a done matter and a real threat, thus continuing to shape the "us vs. them" dynamic between Slovakia and the West. In reality, however, the participation of troops in any conflict is a sovereign decision of the Slovak government, which cannot be dictated how to decide by any of its EU partners.

He also evoked an atmosphere of fear by claiming that the topics to be discussed by the leaders in Paris "send chills down the spine" and called the whole informal summit a "battle meeting". He was similarly misleading about the organisation of the meeting. He claimed that it had been called hastily over the weekend, whereas President Macron had announced the summit several days before. Various disinformation media were involved in the dissemination of Fico's video.

Fico's rhetoric about the ineffective warmongering of the West and Slovakia's interest in peace was also supported by other government officials. Ľuboš Blaha, a SMER-SSD MP, described Slovakia as "a pioneer of peace in Europe" and praised Fico for not giving in to Western interests and thus preventing a third world war. This and other posts by Blaha on the Telegram are actively shared on the SMER-SSD Facebook page. In one of them, Blaha openly claims that "the West is driving us into World War III".

The government is thus trying to present its actions as manifestations of a sovereign foreign policy. It clearly pits it against the interests of the West – while the West, according to Fico's rhetoric, wants to "use the war in Ukraine to weaken Russia economically, militarily and politically", Slovakia wants peace.

The fictitious image of Slovakia as a peacemaker also harms relations with the Czech Republic

The meeting of Slovak Foreign Minister Juraj Blanár with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov was also supposed to be a proof of Slovak peace-building. The official Facebook page of the SMER-SSD party portrayed this meeting as "Slovak diplomacy of common sense" with the aim of "ending the mutual killing of Slavs in Ukraine as quickly as possible". The meeting was also defended by a former politician Anna Belousovova, who is now active in the Slovak disinformation ecosystem. She described European support for Ukraine as committing mass suicide at the behest of the US. The meeting, according to her, was meant to show that Slovakia refuses to subordinate itself to the interests of others.

According to Ľuboš Blaha, the meeting was a great gesture that "Slovakia has no enemies in the world" and respects its partners from the East and the West. He omitted the fact that Slovakia is still on Russia's list of enemy states. Nevertheless, he spoke of Slovakia's respect for Russia and support for peace instead of war.

Minister of Interior Matúš Šutaj Eštok (Hlas-SD) used similar rhetoric, claiming that peace could not be achieved by war or by the clanging of weapons. This was a continuation of the long-standing rhetoric rejecting military aid to Ukraine. However, these claims quite clearly ignore the fact that Ukraine has the right to defend itself and that Russia will not, at this point in time, agree to peace negotiations that would not, as a result, undermine Ukraine's territorial sovereignty.

After a phase of false calls for peace, government officials and the disinformation ecosystem have moved on to portraying Slovakia as a world leader when it comes to peace in Ukraine. This is how Juraj Gedra, the current head of the Government Office, who ran for SMER-SSD in the elections, portrayed it. Some actors, including Minister of the Environment Tomáš Taraba, have used the situation to attack the opposition.

The goal of this rhetoric of a number of government officials supported by the disinformation ecosystem is inherently simple. The interest is to present the government coalition as peacemakers and saviours from world conflict. Among other things, by scaremongering about the deployment of Slovak troops, they are attacking the emotions of the public, which they are thereby inciting to a negative perception of the West. The long-standing rhetoric in which they label every critical or dissenting voice as an agent of foreign interests or as an anti-Slovak element contributes to this.

Since posts containing narratives about a peaceful solution to the war in Ukraine have been dominant in the Slovak information space in the last two weeks, we also looked at them using the CrowdTangle analytical tool. We used it to analyse the most popular posts on Slovak Facebook that contained the keyword "peace" ("mier"). Posts were evaluated based on the total number of interactions (the sum of all reactions, comments and shares).


The post with the most interactions is Robert Fico's comment on the meeting between the Slovak and Russian foreign ministers. He responds to President Zuzana Čaputová and British Ambassador to Slovakia Nigel Baker, who criticised the meeting. In his article, Fico does not offer a constructive response; on the contrary, he accuses the President of being servile to foreign interests. In the case of the ambassador, Fico describes the UK's policy as militant, continuing to shape a manipulative narrative about the warmongering of the West and the peacefulness of Slovakia.

The second post was published by the official Facebook page of the SMER-SSD party. It shared the content previously published on the Telegram by party MP Ľuboš Blaha. As we mentioned above, Blaha glorified Fico for saving peace, while accusing the West and the Slovak opposition of a fanatical war against Russia.

Similarly to the previous case, the SMER-SSD website shared a telegram post by Ľuboš Blaha. It is a post in which Blaha directly accuses the West of dragging Slovakia into a military clash with Russia. He published it before Fico's visit to Paris and in it he scares the public by saying that the lives of Slovak soldiers will be decided, or even "the existence or non-existence" of the world.

The fourth place belongs to the above-mentioned video of the Minister of Interior Matúš Šutaj Eštok, in which he defended the meeting of the Slovak and Russian foreign ministers by using manipulative narratives about the rejection of a military solution to the war in Ukraine.

With the last post, we revisit the re-sharing of Ľuboš Blaha's content on the SMER-SSD page, which the party is using to bypass ban MPs on Facebook. In his post on the Telegram, he shared a speech by Andrej Babiš, who referred to the leader of the Progressive Slovakia party, Michal Šimečka, as an envoy to Brussels in the Czech parliament. Blaha used the dispute between the Czech and Slovak governments to shape the image of Slovakia as a victim. He described the Czech steps leading to the cancellation of above-standard diplomatic relations with Slovakia and the Czech criticism of Slovakia's rapprochement with Russia as an attack on democracy and sovereignty.

Similar rhetoric directed at the Czech Republic was shared by several disinformation media. InfoVojna labelled Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala a militant warmonger. The disinformation Facebook page Ďateľ described this development as the result of a decision by "a chorus of unionists of liberal internationalism."

Part of the disinformation ecosystem also managed to react to a debate planned by the Czech NGO Centre for Informed Society during the reporting period. The discussion was to include an assessment of the political situation in Slovakia. The Slovak Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not like the fact that this discussion should take place at the Dutch Embassy in the Czech Republic. The ministry described this option as interference in the internal affairs of the Slovak Republic. The government's rhetoric was picked up, among others, by the InfoVojna portal, which conspired about a coordinated attack by warmongers in the EU against Slovakia and its sovereign foreign policy.

The fight against the media continues, the government in tandem with the disinformation ecosystem is targeting RTVS in particular

Just days after the 2023 general election, the new government has made it quite clear how it will treat the traditional media. Denník N,, and TV Markíza have been labelled as hostile. This trend of refusing any communication is accompanied by increasing attacks on journalists and the media - in the last two weeks especially in the case of RTVS and TV JOJ.

One only needs to recall the press conference that took place after the V4 prime ministers' meeting in Prague on 28 February 2024. RTVS reporter Katarína Vítková legitimately asked the Slovak prime minister whether he was not worried that his increasingly harsh rhetoric would lead Slovakia into isolation. Fico repeatedly asked the reporter in an inappropriate tone if she was from public broadcaster.

After asking her for "a little more "public service", he published a Facebook post in which he described Vítková as a political activist "disciplining prime ministers". In the post, however, Fico omitted to mention the Czech and Polish prime minister's criticism of Slovak rhetoric, describing the journalist's question as an embarrassment for RTVS and something unacceptable. He thus tried to avoid a confrontational question and to turn attention to the media's fictitious bias.

In a similarly inadequate spirit, Fico responded to a question from a RTVS reporter at the end of January. Asked why his meeting with the Ukrainian prime minister would not take place in Kyiv but in Uzhhorod, Fico responded by declaring that life in Kyiv was absolutely normal. On that day, Russia undertook further shelling of Ukraine with missiles. Fico was responding to suggestions that he was afraid to visit the Ukrainian capital.

At the end of February, Minister of Culture Martina Šimkovičová accused RTVS of not fulfilling its public service role and of being a biased media outlet. She also joined the government's long-standing rhetoric claiming that RTVS only gives space to identical anti-government views.

In a similar vein, SMER-SSD MP Ľuboš Blaha has continuously attacked RTVS. In one of his posts on the Telegram, he described the public broadcaster as a disgrace to journalism. Manipulatively, he claims that RTVS purposefully participates in "anti-Slovak activism", spreading war propaganda and promoting opposition rallies. He has also openly called for the resignation of RTVS director Ľuboš Machaj and presenters Marta Jančkárová and Marek Makara. His long-standing attacks are also propagated by the disinformation media in their articles.

The fact remains, however, that the Slovak public media and its reporters have become the target of attacks and questionable criticism from the ruling coalition for two reasons in particular. Firstly, RTVS has so far not shied away from confrontation with representatives of the ruling parties, and secondly, the government is quite clearly planning to reorganise it and increase its control over broadcasting. This is confirmed by the draft law that the Ministry of Culture has sent for inter-ministerial comments at the time of this report's writing. The draft law shows quite clearly that behind the false calls for independence of RTVS there is an attempt to make the public service media dependent on the government.

The joint rhetoric of the government and the disinformation ecosystem towards the media shows that they want to gradually silence critical voices. Attacks and hate-mongering against journalists and portraying them as enemies of the state remain a tool. As a result, the stage may be cleared for the control and transformation of RTVS from a public service media to a state-owned one. This is essentially what the chairman of Slovak National Party Andrej Danko outlined at the beginning of February.

Private media also face attacks

Jana Krescanko Dibáková, the presenter of the debate show Na hrane on TV JOJ, has not escaped attacks in the last two weeks. At the beginning of March, she pointed out in her post that some of the coalition politicians prefer to avoid confrontational questions and refuse to come on the show, the preparation of which is becoming more and more difficult. Government officials, she said, prefer disinformation media.

SMER-SSD MP Ľuboš Blaha defended them on the Telegram, claiming in his post that the alternative media had protected freedom of speech during the past years. He manipulatively accused Dibáková and the mainstream media of covering "vaccination terror, persecution of the opposition, the death of Milan Lučanský" and "anti-Russian warmongering". In other words, he listed the topics on which the disinformation ecosystem in Slovakia (including politicians) has succeeded in polarising society in recent years.

Blaha's post was shared not only by the SMER-SSD party Facebook page, but also by a plethora of disinformation media. InfoVojna portal talked about the cancellation of the propaganda show due to "biased progressive-liberal activist moderation". Ironically, it was this media outlet that Blaha, along with his fellow party member Erik Kaliňák, headed to for an interview the day after Dibáková's post.

Robert Fico chose similar rhetoric. As in the case of the RTVS journalists, he accused the presenter of political activism and disrespecting the rules of journalism. At the same time, he called on the media to reflect on the current "quality and structure of political debates", which are supposedly the reason why politicians favour the alternative scene. Quite pragmatically, however, he overlooked the fact that discussions in alternative media are noticeably less confrontational towards government actions. It would seem that in this case, too, Fico is manipulatively swapping a critical approach for so-called political activism against Slovak national interests.


Project organized by Adapt Institute, which is supported by the Prague office of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, continuously monitors the activities of both Slovak and foreign disinformation actors, but focuses mainly on the former. The project activities are built upon daily monitoring of emerging disinformation, hoaxes, and conspiracy theories in the online information space. This approach allows the analysts to identify disinformation posts and narratives that resonated with the public the most, as well as to find out where they originated, and how they spread and evolved on social media. The report takes the form of a bi-weekly summary of arising trends in the spread of malicious information content online. Based on that, can inform the public about emerging and current trends in the field of disinformation, manipulation, and propaganda.