Slovakia is to be saved from the dictate of Brussels by 'patriots'. Apart from the EU elections, disinformers also centred on glorifying Russia and fear-mongering about a nuclear conflict. Bi-weekly report on emerging disinformation trends May 17, 2024
© Designed by Freepik presents an overview of disinformation trends that have been on the rise in the last two weeks:

  • As the European Parliament elections approach, the mobilisation of the Slovak disinformation ecosystem continues. In particular, candidates who have long been flirting with problematic narratives continue to be active. Some actors have used the 20th anniversary of Slovakia's EU membership to attack Brussels. Together with so-called progressivism, it continues to be demonised as a path to war. Slovakia is supposedly to be saved by 'patriots'.
  • The celebration of Victory Against Fascism Day was also a resonant theme, serving as an opportunity to glorify Russia and spread false messages. Disinformers spoke of a supposed progressive fascism originating in the West and manifesting itself in the form of Russophobic attacks. Actors such as Eduard Chmelár and Ľuboš Blaha even met with representatives of the Russian Embassy in Slovakia and openly expressed sympathy for them.
  • The reactions of disinformation actors were also earned by the statement of French President Emmanuel Macron that if Russia crosses the front line and Kiev asks for help, he does not rule out sending troops to Ukraine. Slovak disinformers interpreted the statement as a threat confirming that Europe is rushing into nuclear war. They followed up with scaremongering and false calls for peace.

The battle before the European elections: 'patriotic' salvation vs. demonised progressivism

Elections to the European Parliament (EP) will be held in Slovakia on 8 June 2024. As the date approaches, so too grows the activity of Slovakia's disinformation ecosystem. In particular, politicians running for the EP have been engaged in communicating various problematic narratives. They have naturally focused on mobilising voters also through the artificially drawn dividing line between 'patriotism' (sovereignty of member states) and progressivism (oppression by the EU).

This is also the case for Tomáš Taraba, Minister of the Environment and EP candidate for the Slovak National Party, who accused Brussels officials of perceiving the EU as a tool "to enforce more and more absurd policies against the will of the people and nation states". Other politicians have also taken up the equation in which they plan to put the so-called dictates of Brussels in order.

Especially active were the candidates of the far-right Republika movement, who "argued" through the narrative of so-called patriotism. In his post, the party's chairman and candidate leader Milan Uhrík relied on the use of the emotionally charged and polarising topic of abortion. He threatened that "Brussels progressives" are trying to implement the right to abortion in the constitutions of EU member states.

In fact, this debate in the EP is about the possible introduction of a right to abortion in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. However, health care, including sexual and reproductive health, falls within the competence of the member states. This means that such a change would require the unanimous agreement of all member states. Uhrík has made similarly manipulative interpretations on other topics.

In another post, the chair of the Republic movement theorizes conspiratorially about his electoral rivals – referring to the Progressive Slovakia (Progresívne Slovensko) and Democrats (Demokrati) parties as part of globalist projects. His running mate Jozef Viktorín returned to the traditional accusation that the candidates of Progressive Slovakia are servants of the West and Brussels, to be "controlled from the outside".

We will remain in the realm of conspiracy theories with Milan Mazurek, another candidate of Republika for the European Parliament. In the video, which also features Lívia Pavlíková (also a candidate for Republika and moderator of the disinformation project Kulturblog), he scares his audience with genetically modified food, which he claims Brussels is supposed to test on the European population.

Branislav Becík, a MP (Hlas-SD party) and candidate for the European elections, is gradually building his campaign on lies and myths about the EU's green policy. In his posts, he talks about the green lunatics in the European Parliament who have allegedly decided to '"reduce livestock such as cows or piglets just because they emit CO2." Presumably he is talking about the European Parliament's Industrial Emissions Directive, which was revised and strengthened in March 2024.

The document lays down rules for reducing emissions from industrial installations, including large livestock-intensive plants, as well as battery production and metal mining and processing facilities. It seeks to address environmental burdens in the form of air pollution, waste water discharges and other forms of waste generation. In doing so, the EP candidate Becík deliberately omits the scale of the problem and seeks to stir up controversy. He does not even mention the fact that the directive has been in force since 2010 and its amendment only extends the possibilities for reducing pollution from industrial installations.

In a number of cases, the actors' desire to create a false dilemma between the sovereignty of the nation and competences of the EU is thus predominant. This level is subsequently used in the electoral contest against rival parties, especially Progressive Slovakia party, which is demonised most frequently along with Brussels. This is well illustrated by the Telegram post by Ľuboš Blaha. In it, the SMER-SSD candidate refers to the so-called progressives in terms such as traitors or warmongers.

Eduard Chmelár, a dubious political commentator and Fico's political advisor, made similar comments. He also tried to highlight the weight of the upcoming EU elections, this time through fear. He described the EP elections as a decisive moment between whether the EU will be a peace project or an autocratic military organisation for which "the priority is armaments and the control of the people". In this pre-election alternative reality, the meaning of the EP elections is portrayed by the following dynamics – 'patriots' are the path to peace and the reshaping of the EU, 'progressives' are the path to war and the oppression of Slovak interests.

The upcoming elections to the European Parliament are demonstrably mobilising the disinformation ecosystem in Slovakia. Since posts containing narratives about the Eurocampaign and European events have been dominant in the Slovak information space in the last two weeks, we also looked at them through the CrowdTangle analytical tool. We used it to analyse the most popular posts on Slovak Facebook that contained the keywords "EU", "Europe" or "Brussels". 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 a video published by Milan Uhrík. In the video, the chairman of the Republika movement presents news from the so-called patriotic conference that took place in Bucharest at the end of April. The video should be seen as part of an election campaign in which Uhrík tries to create the impression that his party is a respected political player on the European patriotic platform (the so-called Make Europe Great Again movement). The article is accompanied by narratives that speak of a fictitious oppression of European nations by Brussels. The EU is accused of forcibly pushing so-called green and LGBTI+ ideology, thus Uhrík paints an image of a European enemy against which he is mobilising his voters.

The second post was published by the official SMER-SSD Facebook page. The content was originally published by MP (and EP candidate) Ľuboš Blaha on Telegram. In addition to the scaremongering about World War III, which we analyse in another part of the report, Blaha emphasises the crucial importance of the upcoming European elections. As part of the long-standing rhetoric of SMER-SSD party members, which manipulatively contrasts the interests of Slovakia and the EU, Blaha indirectly continues to accuse Brussels (and the West) of warmongering. He presents his potential election to the European Parliament as a path to peace. Traditionally, he pragmatically omits any mention of a constructive blueprint for peace, and also resigns himself to clearly naming the aggressor. On the contrary, Blaha seeks to legitimise Russian aggression.

The next post is a video by Milan Uhrík. In it, the chairman of Republika continues to rail against the SMER-SSD party. He uses a number of critical European topics, which he manipulatively portrays to attack the minds of the electorate. The migration pact is depicted as supporting the flow of African migrants into the EU, Uhrík also reintroduces narratives about the ineffectiveness of sanctions and energy prices. He also mentions the subject of the digital euro, which some of Uhrík's colleagues present as an attempt by the EU to control the European population.

The last place belongs to the official SMER-SSD Facebook page, which shared the post by Katarína Roth Neveďalová. In it, the EP candidate defends herself against the Eurocampaign of the Progresive Slovakia party, which she calls a "Maidan", and specifically attacks former Prime Minister Ľudovít Ódor. She also returns to the narrative with which the current ruling coalition has tried to absolve itself of responsibility for the imminent stoppage of EU funds – she manipulatively accuses the Progresive Slovakia party of so-called anti-Slovak lobbying, whilst ignoring European criticism of the development of the rule of law and democracy in Slovakia.

Victory over Fascism Day served for the glorification of Russia

A major theme of the last two weeks has been the anniversary of the surrender of Nazi Germany, which officially ended the Second World War in Europe. Victory over Fascism Day, which falls on 8 May, has also been targeted this year by disinformation actors who have exploited the important topic for their own ends. The anniversary served disinformation actors to disseminate lies about the alleged threat of liberalism or progressivism, which was interpreted as 'modern fascism' spread from the West.

According to György Gyimesi, deputy chairman of the Szövetség - Alliance party, "another, extremely aggressive and sick ideology has entered, this time from the West, which aims to dominate the public space and push any other opinion out of it. It is called PROGRESSIVISM." In a Facebook post on 8 May, Gyimesi claimed that progressivism "dehumanises and stigmatises opinion opponents, and does not hesitate to use the repressive forces of the state", allegedly building on the activities of foreign-funded NGOs and media.

In addition to trying to portray a threat in the form of domestic liberal political forces, Gyimesi hinted at an adversary in the form of the EU. He claimed that fanatical progressives are coming up with laws that promote, for example, "restricting the breeding of cows because they fart methane, the ability to change sex at will, third toilets in schools and public buildings for those who don't know what they are, the fairy tale of spreading peace through destructive weapons, adopting sanctions against themselves, and the importation of hundreds of thousands of maladjusted migrants". The post, which was also shared by the disinformation site Main Daily, thus spread a larger number of deceptive narratives, including false calls for peace, a narrative about the ineffectiveness of sanctions against Russia, or toxic lies about the threat of LGBTI people.

Similar claims appeared in Eduard Chmelár's post. Like Gyimesi, Chmelár claimed that we have not won against fascism, but that it is growing "in new forms hitherto unknown". Chmelár's piece suggested that the Red Army's contribution to the liberation of Slovakia before the end of the Second World War is now forgotten and that European states are allegedly involved in spreading "anti-Russian chauvinism".

According to Chmelár, who has long glorified Russia and justified its war crimes, it is necessary to reject claims of Soviet cooperation with Nazi Germany. The claim that the USSR was an ally of Hitler is demagoguery and a rewriting of history, he said. Despite the turn of events in June 1941, when the USSR was invaded by Germany and sided with the anti-Hitler coalition, it is impossible to gloss over the fact that in September 1939 it invaded Poland precisely alongside Nazi Germany. Yet the military action in question stemmed from a secret protocol to the non-aggression treaty between Germany and the USSR, in which they divided their spheres of influence in Central and Eastern Europe.

Fico's advisor used the anniversary to attack the European Union. In his opinion, the EU should be engaged as an initiator of peace negotiations, not arming one country against another. Similar rhetoric was used by Ľuboš Blaha, who in a Telegram piece pointed to the West's alleged Russophobia and its desire to prolong the conflict for the sake of arms profits.

Blaha also glorified Russia in other posts. For example, he drew attention to the fact that on 9 May, when Victory Day is celebrated in Russia, he appeared on the Russian propaganda television RT and took part in a meeting covered by the Russian Embassy in Slovakia. On this occasion, he said that "the Russian nation is traditionally our friendly Slavic nation". He shared photos from the meeting showing him shaking hands with Russian Ambassador Igor Bratchikov and posing with representatives of the pro-Russian biker gang Brother for Brother (BRAT za BRATA) based in Slovakia.

In another Telegram post, Blaha explained that he had been with Bratchikov "and other excellencies from the People's Republic of China, Belarus and Kazakhstan to pay their respects to the heroes of the Red Army on the Slavín." Again, he also tried to create the idea of a supposedly postmodern progressive fascism: "Our grandfathers defeated brown fascism, it is time to defeat the progressive one." At the same time, he expressed opposition to the alleged hatred of Russia and warmongering, adding that "a Slovak will never take up arms against a Russian."

The glorification of the Russian leader Vladimir Putin himself, who was re-elected as President of the Federation, also appeared during the reporting period. Allegations of vote rigging and violations of the integrity of the vote were linked to the election. Nevertheless, Eduard Chmelár, for example, gave the false impression that doubts about a rigged election should be linked not to Russia but to Ukraine.

According to Chmelár, "Ukraine has cancelled this year's presidential elections, opposition leaders are either in prison or in exile, opposition media are banned, and those who have escaped from this hell are being caught like rabbits by the Ukrainian security forces". In the piece, Chmelár described Putin as a legitimately elected president and said that the participation of Slovak diplomats at his inauguration in Moscow was the right move, which does not deepen "the already quite tense Cold War".

By their nature and the rhetoric used, the aforementioned pieces contribute to the relativisation of Russian war crimes, which are deliberately concealed or downplayed. Pro-Kremlin actors present Russia's actions as a necessary response to Russophobia and pressure from the West, whose hatred of Russia is supposedly dragging us into the conflict. Rhetoric containing pro-Soviet sentiments is also ever-present. These appear regularly just in time for the celebration of Victory over Fascism Day and serve to glorify Russia as a supposed peacemaker.

The bogeyman of the world conflict

The strongly resonating calls for peace and glorification of Russia have been followed over the past two weeks by posts in which disinformers have raised the spectre of the possibility of a World War III. This strain appeared particularly in response to French President Emmanuel Macron's statement that if Russia crosses the front line and Kiev asks for help, he would not rule out sending troops to Ukraine. Macron had already commented on the issue at the end of February this year, when many disinformers reacted similarly by spreading fear and accusing him of warmongering.

Igor Melicher, a member of SMER-SSD and State Secretary of the Ministry of Defence of the Slovak Republic, published a post on the topic in which he scared Slovaks with possible involvement in the war on the basis of Article 5 of the NATO treaty. He argued that France's actions, in the event that it became independently involved in the conflict, "cannot be considered as defence, but solely as part of offensive-defensive warfare, which must not be covered by alliance protection and the use of Article 5 of the NATO treaty". According to Melicher, sending troops to Ukraine could be a threat even to those states that "do not want to be dragged into this war".

According to Ľuboš Blaha, these are threats from Macron that confirm that Europe is rushing into nuclear war. On his Telegram account, Blaha said that "the West is escalating the conflict against Russia. And when we openly point this out, they would like to gag us."

Nuclear war was also threatened by an article on the disinformation portal InfoVojna: "NATO is in a panic. Macron talks about sending troops, Poland talks about sending troops. And Russia is saying: "We don't know how many times to tell you - if NATO troops appear on Ukrainian territory, we will use nuclear weapons against you. (...) We will destroy you. Not your troops in Ukraine, but your decision centres." This is a statement by Scott Ritter, a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer, whose expertise was presumably meant to lend credibility to the article. In reality, however, Ritter is one of the Kremlin's favorite propaganda personalities who regularly shares disinformation messages from the Kremlin's mouthpiece.

In the above-mentioned post, Luboš Blaha also spread long-refuted disinformation about neo-Nazis and Banderites who allegedly persecuted the Russian-speaking minority in Ukraine. As an example, he cited the Odessa incident, since Macron was supposed to make the aforementioned statements about Russia and Ukraine cynically on the tenth anniversary of that event. Blaha falsely interpreted the incident as a massacre in which "dozens of members of the Russian minority were burned to death by Ukrainian neo-Nazis".

In fact, the tragedy that took place in Odessa on 2 May 2024 followed a clash between two groups of pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian demonstrators, with members of both camps using firearms and Molotov cocktails. These subsequently caused a fire in the Trade Union House, which eventually claimed 42 lives. Although the incident has not been investigated to this day and it is unclear how the fire itself originated, the event has been exploited by pro-Kremlin actors to falsely portray Ukrainians as neo-Nazis. Despite the fact that Blaha's post contained an obvious lie, it was later shared on the official SMER-SSD Facebook page and received attention in an article by the disinformation portal eReport.


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.