The spread of hatred and disinformation continues after the assassination attempt on Prime Minister Fico Bi-weekly report on emerging disinformation trends 31 May 2024
© Oleg Chumakov via presents an overview of disinformation trends that have been on the rise in the last two weeks:

  • The assassination attempt on Robert Fico shook the whole Slovak society. Calls for reconciliation, however, have been replaced by further hate-building. The disinformation ecosystem and politicians attacked opposition parties and mainstream media in particular.
  • Manipulative passing of responsibility was the most common. Actors used the tragic event to belittle the media's role in democracy. Some of them compared the assassination attempt on the prime minister to the murder of journalist Ján Kuciak or the attack in Tepláreň, a gay pub where a gay couple was shot in October 2022. Behind these comparisons, actors masked their claims to promote tension and paint targets on the backs of politicians, the media and NGOs. These, they said, needed to be dealt with.
  • Over time, conspiracy theories began to appear on the pages of government politicians as well. According to the disinformation ecosystem, Fico was supposed to be a victim because of his peace oriented policies. Among other things, mysterious foreign forces were also alleged to be behind the assassination plot. Such artificially formed bogeymen may help in mobilisation ahead of the elections to the European Parliament (EP).
  • The campaign for the EP elections has accelerated  in the Slovak disinformation scene again. Disinformation actors spread largely misleading messages about the threats of liberalism or LGBTI and questioned the extent of climate change. There were attacks on specific Union measures (e.g. the Green Deal) which were misinterpreted. The candidates of the far-right party Republika were particularly active in this respect.

Gambling with hatred and polarisation of society

On 15 May 2024, Slovakia was shaken by the news of the assassination attempt on Robert Fico. The Prime Minister was assaulted by the perpetrator, Juraj C., who admitted in a leaked video after his arrest that he was also driven to the act for political reasons. The assassination attempt on Robert Fico can clearly be seen as the result of the culmination of hatred and the polarisation of Slovak society. However, calls for reconciliation and unity have not met with universal understanding in the political arena.

On the contrary, some Slovak politicians and the disinformation ecosystem continued to build an atmosphere of hatred by spreading problematic narratives (also) on social media. Calls for reconciliation were often followed by painting targets on the backs of the opposition or the media. At the same time, the complicated profile of the assassin was deliberately simplified so that it could be instrumentalised in further attacks, especially on the opposition party Progressive Slovakia and the mainstream media. Conspiracy theories were not absent, and there were also easily refutable disinformation that the attacker was supposed to be Ukrainian or a member of Progressive Slovakia party.

Ľuboš Blaha, Deputy Speaker of the Slovak Parliament and candidate to the EP for the SMER-SSD party, has been particularly active in the last two weeks. In one of his posts on the Telegram, he accuses the "liberal media" and the "progressive opposition" of brainwashing and systematically spreading hatred against Robert Fico. In such terms, he continuously tries to downplay the criticism that the prime minister has legitimately earned in recent years for his various political missteps (e.g. also concerning corruption scandals or the dismantling of the rule of law). State Secretary Igor Melicher (also of SMER-SSD) tried to portray this criticism in a similar way.

In a manipulative manner, Ľuboš Blaha continued to transfer responsibility for building an atmosphere of hatred in his other posts. He again exclusively placed it on the shoulders of the opposition and the mainstream media. He called on them to repent and apologise, but did not take a similar step himself and continued to spread problematic narratives.

Other representatives of the governing coalition have adopted a similar approach. Tomáš Taraba, Minister of the Environment (Slovak National Party), stated in his post that the hateful opposition has "blood on their hands". In his other Facebook communication, which we discuss in the top posts section below, Taraba in turn manipulatively simplified the profile of the attacker and linked his radicalisation to the opposition protests he had attended.

Štefan Harabin, an unsuccessful presidential candidate, described the attacker as a "product of liberal propaganda". In addition to the eReport portal, the uncritical statement of the former Minister of Justice was also shared, for example, by the problematic Facebook page Informácie bez cenzúry (Information Without Censorship). According to Harabin, "presstitutes from the mainstream, agents from NGOs and politicians" from opposition parties are responsible for the assassination attempt.

Probably the most striking was the video of Rudolf Huliak published by the Slovak National Party on its official page (Huliak's Facebook account was shut down for sharing a video with Slovak extremist Daniel Bombic at the end of February 2024 by Meta, the company that owns the platform). The MP described the opposition and the media as "the problem of society" and "real instigators inspired from abroad to subvert our society."  He also linked the situation on a hateful note to the narrative of LGBTI propaganda and openly called for bringing order in the society. Why such rhetoric was particularly dangerous just a day after the assassination probably does not need to be explained.

From the far-right political spectrum, members of the Republika movement also commented on the assassination attempt on the Prime Minister. Its chairman Milan Uhrík, in his post, identified "progressive radicalism" as the cause and the problem and called for the eradication of "real extremists". In an interview with the Russian media outlet RT, he directly blamed politicians and journalists for the assassination attempt. He referred to "the spread of hate speech by the mainstream pro-Western media," which he described as unacceptable. Fellow party member Milan Mazurek also indirectly described the media and the opposition as "extremists" and "problematic".

In several posts, Ľuboš Blaha (but also other actors) manipulatively compares the assassination of Robert Fico to the murder of journalist Ján Kuciak back in 2018 and the murder of a gay couple in front of the gay bar called Tepláreň in Bratislava in 2022. The current coalition is said to have faced a disproportionate social lynch mob during the periods in question. This is Blaha's way of justifying his current attacks and accusations against the media and the opposition. However, Blaha, along with others, omits an important fact – Robert Fico, unlike the victims in the above-mentioned cases, is a politician and in a democracy he must face some scrutiny and confrontation – precisely from the opposition and the media. Their actions simply cannot be compared to the hate speech that (also thanks to the rhetoric of the current government) is faced by much more vulnerable journalists or minorities.

Assassination conspiracy theories with a geopolitical background

Some Slovak disinformation actors tried to explain the assassination attempt on Robert Fico through the prism of the geopolitical situation. Sometimes more and sometimes less conspiratorially, they linked the act to the prime minister's attitudes towards the war in Ukraine. This was no different in the case of MP Blaha, who sees the reason for the assassination attempt behind the fact that Robert Fico has a different opinion – 'he wants peace and refuses to send weapons to Ukraine'. Eduard Chmelár, a current advisor to the prime minister, tried to portray the situation in a similar way in an interview shared by the disinformation portal InfoVojna.

Blaha accentuated the peace argument a bit more in another post, where he argues that "the world needs to know the truth – they wanted to kill him because he wanted peace." A video of the interview for Serbian media outlet Tanjug was shared by the official SMER-SSD Facebook page. Blaha's similar assertions continue a long-standing polarising narrative in which Slovak interests and "sovereign foreign policy" are portrayed as a counterpoint to the manipulative image of the so-called warmongering of the West. In another piece, Blaha conspired on a global level – he accused the American media outlet New York Times of spreading disinformation and of covering up the fact that the assassin was supposed to be "a political fanatic from their own camp – pro-Ukrainian, anti-Trump, progressive".

A day later, the EP candidate hardened his rhetoric – in his post on the Telegram he outlined that foreign forces may have been behind the assassination attempt on Robert Fico. Anecdotally, he referred to a statement made by the Georgian Prime Minister, who is now facing domestic and foreign criticism for adopting a law against NGOs.

Tibor Eliot Rostas, the long-time editor-in-chief of the pro-Russian portal Zem&Vek and currently a candidate to the EP for the Republika movement, had already theorised similarly conspiratorial ideas on the day of the assassination attempt. Behind the so-called hatred against Fico there are supposed to be "forces financed from beyond our borders, whose aim is to defuse the remnants of national sovereignty effectively ruined by the political wing of the third sector as well as by ideologues in Brussels and in the NATO pact". He goes on to claim that "in addition to an enormous number of facts, all of this is evidenced by the initiative to raise money for weapons and killing in Ukraine". However, Rostas offers no evidence for his claims. He fabricated and attacked make-believe bogeymen - named institutions have long been targets of disinformation narratives and Russian propaganda.

In a post published by Blaha a week after the assassination attempt, he mentions that Robert Fico was the target of "vicious hatred" because of "our peace policy". He also returns to the scaremongering about the possibility of nuclear war. Blaha's post illustrates quite clearly how the assassination of the prime minister can be used not only for mobilisation in the upcoming Euro elections, but also to accelerate action against RTVS. It also shows how effectively he can embed tragic events in long-term narratives that he uses to disenchant and exploit the vulnerabilities of his audience to score political points.

Since posts containing narratives about the assassination attempt on Prime Minister Robert Fico 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 keywords "Fico", "hate" or "assassination". We excluded from the list those posts that did not contain problematic narratives. Posts were then evaluated based on the total number of interactions (the sum of all reactions, comments, and shares).


The post with the most interactions is the video published by BRAT za BRATA (Brother for brother). It is a civic association uniting Slovak bikers. It is also very closely tied to the Russian Embassy in Slovakia and makes no secret of its pro-Russian views, which it actively communicates. The video shows the main representative of the association, Matúš Alexa, attacking opposition parties and accusing them of spreading hatred in Slovak society. He describes them as "miserable bodies". Indirectly, manipulatively and without evidence, he linked them to the attacker. At the same time, he uniformly categorised the parties under the label of "liberals" – in effect, immediately after the assassination attempt, he contributed to the creation of an image of the enemy that he wants to get out of Slovakia.

The second post was published by the official SMER-SSD Facebook page. It shared the post of its EP candidate Ľuboš Blaha, who originally published it on the Telegram. It is part of an interview for the ZVTV portal – the online television of the problematic Zem&Vek website – in which Blaha accused the mainstream media of brainwashing the attacker. He went on to downplay criticism of the government coalition's actions. Blaha called for calm, but immediately reverted to attacks on RTVS, which he accused of being biased. Similarly, he attacked the opposition and other media outlets – which were supposed to lynch the SMER-SSD party and Robert Fico for no reason. The post thus reflects quite well the underlying problem of the rhetoric chosen by some members of the governing coalition – outwardly they call for reconciliation, but then continue to spread hatred and paint targets on the backs of the opposition and the media. This reveals the true nature of their agenda, which is based on building an image of martyrdom. It is probably not about reconciliation, but about scoring political points and gaining legitimacy for further measures to steer Slovakia away from democracy.

The third post was published by Judita Laššáková, a candidate of the SMER-SSD party to the EP and a well-known face of the disinformation ecosystem. In her post, she criticised the mainstream media for reporting on the assassination, rejected reconciliation in society – like other actors in the disinformation scene, Laššáková expressed her belief that the other side should be the first to apologise. She also goes back to the pandemic era by making manipulative references to a fictional totalitarianism of sorts on the part of the state. Through referring to the fact that children had to wear masks in schools for their own protection during the pandemic she tries to point towards discrimination and segregation. She thus returns to the disinformation narratives on which she has managed to build her popularity in the past.

The next post in the series was published by György Gyimesi, who is running for the EP on behalf of the Alliance-Szövetség party. In the piece, he reacted critically to the calls for calming down the situation that emerged from opposition forces and the mainstream media after the assassination of the Prime Minister. Gyimesi specifically focused on the calls for a break in the EP campaign – which he described as "a game of hide-and-seek by progressives" and "a scary mistake by the coalition". However, this call for a temporary suspension of the Eurocampaign was also initiated by some coalition candidates. The post conspiratorially transferred responsibility for the assassination to the "progressives" – who are said to be pleased with the desired peace in society.

The last place belongs to the post of the Slovak Minister of the Environment, Tomáš Taraba (Slovak National Party). Despite calls for politicians to avoid accusations, Taraba described the attacker as a fanatical individual who "spread narratives of progressive media". In addition to the oversimplification of the assassin's profile mentioned above, Taraba also took aim at the opposition Progressive Slovakia party – which he accused of organising protests to (perhaps deliberately) spread hatred and hysteria. In this way, Taraba reports on the protests in a manipulative way: he neglects their democratic significance for the expression of discontent and wrongly portrays them as just some kind of breeding ground for radicalisation.

Attacks on the opposition and the media can be expected to continue in the near future. Part of the coalition leaders and the disinformation ecosystem will probably work to paint a martyr image – not only in the case of Robert Fico, but also of the government as a whole. With conspiracy theories and attacks on their political (and media) opponents, these actors contribute mainly to scaremongering and further polarisation of Slovak society. Both layers are highly usable for mobilisation ahead of the EP elections, as well as for justifying the monopolisation of power.

EU promotes climate and LGBTI rights 'craziness'

After the assassination attempt on Robert Fico, the campaign for the EU elections petered out for a few days. Nevertheless, during the two weeks under review, there was (already typical) scaremongering about the Brussels dictate or attempts to create a false impression that the European Union was not acting in the interests of Slovakia and its pro-national political forces. In the last two weeks, the topics of European green politics, LGBTI and liberalism resonated.

The issue of the EU's green measures has been taken up primarily by members of the far-right Republika movement. Its leader Milan Uhrík, an MEP and MEP candidate, described the fight against climate change as "climate alarmism" and downplayed the whole issue. In a video post on Facebook, he also drew attention to the proposal to abolish the Green Deal, which, in addition to the Republika, was supported by MEPs from other right-wing parties such as Spain's Vox, Poland's Law and Justice and Germany's Alternative for Germany. The proposal, which was tabled back in February 2024, was initiated by MEP Tom Vandendriessche, representing the Belgian far-right Vlaams Belang party.

Uhrík claimed in the video that the Green Deal "does not protect nature, but destroys our industry and our farmers". Specifically, he talked about the need to reject the ban on petrol engines, compulsory electric cars or artificially overpriced renewable energies. However, it is precisely measures in the areas of energy and transport that are key to ensuring that the greenhouse gas emissions that drive climate change are reduced.

Renewable energy sources have a number of advantages over fossil fuels, not only in terms of minimised burden on the environment and human health, but also in terms of lower prices, as they require less money for maintenance and operation. In addition, countries with more energy produced from renewable sources are less susceptible to fuel price fluctuations, which ultimately guarantees more stable energy prices. Uhrik's argument about high prices is misleading as it only highlights the building of new energy infrastructure and does not take into account the benefits in the long term.

According to Uhrík, "a large mass is forming in the EU which is no longer afraid to call for the abolition of Brussels nonsense". The claim that MEPs from the aforementioned parties are isolated in the EP is not true, he said. However, he himself admitted in the video that the motion for a resolution had not been included in the agenda for the EP session. In fact, the motion has received almost no attention even in the European media.

We have also registered an attack on the Green Deal from the side of Branislav Becík, an MP and candidate to the EP for the Hlas-SD party. He, as in previous period, misled about the EP directive on industrial emissions, revised in March 2024. From the directive, which includes rules for reducing emissions from industrial installations (including large enterprises with intensive livestock farming, as well as installations for battery production or metal mining and processing), he deliberately chose only one aspect – cattle farming.

In the video, Becík misleadingly narrowed the optics when he claimed that the planet should only be saved by reducing the number of cows, according to "green experts from Brussels", as they produce CO2. With his entry, he was trying to stir up controversy and attack the emotions of the viewers. However, he did not mention the fact that restrictions on cattle farming are still under consideration under the directive.

Alongside green issues, the LGBTI issue and the alleged perversions promoted by the EU were communicated by disinformation actors. Also on this topic, the posts of the MEP candidates for the Republika movement were prominent. Milan Uhrík and Milan Mazurek, for example, used the rainbow parade in Brussels to spread a narrative about the 'real face' of Western Europe and Brussels, which is supposedly undesirable and must not be allowed to enter Slovak schools and society.

In another video, Uhrík claimed that the true face of Brussels includes the promotion of "reinvented genders". He mocked the symbolic gesture of raising rainbow flags on EP buildings in Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT), which falls on 17 May.

Attacks on LGBTI people were also linked to the Eurovision Song Contest, which was won for the first time by a non-binary person (Swiss musician Nemo Mettler). Following this, Zuzana Plevíková, a MP for SMER-SSD, conspired that the contest had been decided in advance, as should have been the case with the victory of the Ukrainian group Kalush Orchestra in 2022. Her post was shared by the official SMER-SSD page. György Gyimesi also picked up on the topic. In the post, he claimed that the contest is a "symbol of the decadence of the West" or a "show of tastelessness", as it is "won by all the LGBTI+ propaganda characters (...) regardless of the real singing quality of their performances".

According to Milan Mazurek, Eurovision is a failed joke and a political contest, describing this year's winner as "a transformer who says he doesn't know whether he is a man or a woman". In the post, the far-right Republika member and EP candidate spread lies about the alleged pushing of madness in Slovak schools and claimed that "we must stop the rise of these insanities". "We owe it to our children not to wake up one day to a world where being normal will be the worst insult and 'extremism'," Mazurek added.

Like Gyimesi and Uhrík, Mazurek presented the topic of sexual minority rights without respect, in a very misleading way and with the intention of portraying LGBTI groups as a threat to Europe. He applied the same formula to the topic of migration, interpreting the presence of members of national or religious minorities in Brussels as something pathological against which Slovakia and Europe must be protected. These candidates are thus once again using a familiar formula, in which they fabricate threats coming from the EU and promise their own voters that they will protect them from such threats.


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.