Russia has opened up another front in the Czech Republic

Protest rally against NATO troops overnight in Vyskov, organized by the Czech Communist Party  on March 26 at the Vyškov Masaryk Square.. Image: ČTK Zehl Igor

Protest rally against NATO troops overnight in Vyskov, organized by the Czech Communist Party on March 26 at the Vyškov Masaryk Square.. Image: ČTK Zehl Igor 

2015/03/29 • Politics

Article by: Nicole Gallina

While eastern Europeans are talking about possible next targets in Ukraine (Mariupol, Kharkiv, or everything in between), the occupation of the Baltics (or Moldova, Georgia or even parts of Kazakhstan), Russia is targeting a very central European country: the Czech Republic.

Russia’s efforts to discredit the Czech Republic on an international stage have intensified recently. The so-called “Dragoon Ride” has been a welcomed occasion: soldiers of the American 3rd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment are currently driving Stryker combat vehicles from Estonia Bavaria, Germany via Poland and the Czech Republic.

This fact has been used by Russian agents, Russophiles and others to stage a loud verbal anti-NATO campaign in the Czech Republic (and to distract attention from own large-scale war preparation efforts).

First those efforts were quite successful, as NATO supporters belong to the silent majority – 82% of Czechs have no problems with Americans driving through the country. Thus several civic organizations and the media outlet Svobodné Forum decided to act, and organized the support campaign “Hi Friends” and Pro konvoj 2015, taking place from 28 until 31 March 2015.

The Facebook-account of one of the organizers and chief of Svobodné Forum Pavel Šafr, in the last days was blocked twice due to Russian influence as he claims. It’s noteworthy that several days ago, access to a Czech and Slovak support letter of Ukraine stating “There is War in Europe: Let’s not Repeat the Munich Betrayal of 1938″ was also restricted.

The Czech Communist Party KSČM organized a protest-booth on 26 March 2015 in Vyškov (with the meager outcome of 50 participants), where a part of the troops were to stay overnight. The KSČM is in fact one of the main players for Russia in the Czech Republic: the party is proud of its past as a communist hardline party until the breakdown of socialism in Czechoslovakia in 1989. It is since ever tightly connected to Russia and Russian/socialists sensibilities, and can be compared for example with the German party “Die Linke.” Its average support-rates are at 14%. Its current head and Deputy Parliamentary Speaker Vojtěch Filip was also listed as collaborator of the Czechoslovak state security (a court decided he had not collaborated consciously). Recently, Filip participated in a demonstration in Prague against western sanctions against Russia (Russia’s propaganda-outlet Sputnik eagerly quoted him at this occasion in English and German). In the recent escalation of events, he told cz.Sputniknews that there was no “Russian danger” and that common military exercises and US presence in Europe would make the situation worse.

The political environment in the last months has much supported Russian ambitions: the pro-Russian positions of the country’s president Miloš Zeman (who, interestingly, is in support of “Dragoon Ride”) and his predecessor Klaus are widely known. Less known is that the governing coalition has repeatedly questioned the sense of sanctions against Russia, and be it not for German pressure, it is unlikely that the two bigger coalition parties would have consented to them.

The first party of interest is the “Protest movement” ANO – which critics say is in fact a protest movement against democracy. Its current support rates are around 30%. The party founder and Slovak-born leader Andrej Babiš is a former member of the Czechoslovak Communist Party KSČ later turned businessman (with the business conglomerate Agrofert), and now additional owner of the country’s most important media and finance minister. Since several months, he staffs the state administration and also his party with his people, absolutely loyal to him, and some therefore call ANO the “Führerpartei.” There has been a high percentage of persons in his entourage who are “siloviki” (i.e. connected to police agencies) that formerly studied at Communist cadre schools, were members of the Czechoslovak Communist Party, or are suspected of having worked for the Czechoslovak Security Service StB. ANO’s party leader is still involved in court proceedings in Slovakia, because he denies the authenticity of state security documents of the Slovak Nation’s Memory Institute identifying him as collaborator for the Czechoslovak state security. There is even a former spy heading a Prague district mayor’s office. ANO has kept a low profile on its position towards Russia, and the new party’s vice president recently claimed ignorance on foreign policy.

The second party is the Czech Social-Democratic Party ČSSD – the party’s program can be called rather socialist, and its position toward Russia is comparable to the appeasing-position of the German SPD. Some have characterized their stances as “pro-Russian or neutral”. The current ČSSD foreign minister is one of the few western politicians who still speak to Lavrov. ČSSD-head and Prime Minister Sobotka keeps a very low profile on all questions related to Ukraine and Russia.

Plus, the concentration of pro-Russian servers and news-portals in the Czech Republic and Slovakia is also astonishing: there are over 40 websites with this mission, and several institutes engaged for the Russian cause – such as the ISSTRAS that in summer 2014 claimed Russia was not responsible for the 1940 Katyń-massacre, when the NKVD murdered over 20.000 Polish officers. One of the most notorious pro-Russian services in the Czech Republic has been Aeronet, active since summer 2014. For example, they have been propagating a theory that the November 2014 street protests against Czech President Zeman were organized by Americans (directly from the US embassy).

There are some other serious points to consider: The Czech Republic – in particular Prague – is considered Russia’s outpost in central Europe. The Russian embassy is the biggest base for Russian spying in the region. With its 125 people it is totally overdimensioned (in comparison, the Americans have 70 people there). The Czech security service for several years now has warned that a significant amount of those persons are spies. The Czech parliamentary deputy Gabal suggested to reduce this amount significantly.

Moreover, the Russian embassy in Prague has been actively engaged in actions against “Dragoon Ride” and spreads hard-core Russian propaganda. They retweet, of course, the statements of their boss Lavrov, the claims of the Russian propaganda agencies Tass, Ria Novosti, RT, Sputnik, its Czech outlet Sputnik ČR, (the Czech conspiracy-site) Protiproud or the pro-Russian AC24.cz. For example the embassy featured the AC24.cz fake that American forces, the FBI and the CIA are already in Ukraine. The embassy puts a great focus on war propaganda, i.e. Soviet heros and victories of WWII – in a mental preparation for the 9th May anniversary and further military actions. They also retweededthe link for the notorious video “I’am a Russian occupant” (initially spread by the Russian Vice-Prime Minister Dimitri Rogozin). The video indirectly called for an occupation of the Baltics, Central Asia and Ukraine. Additionally, the Czech media outlet Echo24.cz reported the Coordination Council for Russians living in the Czech Republic – directed by the Russian embassy – requested its members to compile lists of their “military-patriotic activities” until the end of April 2015. In regard to the situation this has to be interpreted as preparations of para-military and propagandistic units.

All those measures are components of Russia’s hybrid warfare.

Russia is trying to take over the Czech Republic.

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  • Brent

    The Czech Republic…..right on Germany’s doorstep. If this doesn’t wake up the slumbering Merkl and the other useful idiots in Germany like Frank Walter Steinmeir and Sigmar Gabriel extricate their craniums from the rectums, then central Europe may as well brush up on their Russian now.

  • Charles J. Kollman

    When you live in a Democracy or the US. that has rights the are stronger then a Democracy you live and are open to others that use the freedom to be against the very same freedom. Before the Patriot Act police needed a warrant signed buy a Judge to force entry into your home. Police could not ask the question to a person are you an American citizen. They could not stop you, because they did not like thew way you looked. Under this Act you are screwed. Thank you Boy Bush, but i hear from some that Boy Bush was good for Ukraine. This American says he was not good for America. Boy Bush the Tyrant and the Tyrants in his circle were like people in the Third Reich Nazi Germany.

    • puttypants

      Mr. Kollman you are talking about the nsa…you know that came about because of 9/11 in the USA. It’s also an issue that is talked about in America. A good discussion that Americans need to have. How do we keep ourselves safe against all the international threats and still not lose our liberty? Americans are very conscious of losing our freedoms we’re always in a state of trying to balance between security and the potential for a police state. That’s what good about America. We can openly argue and we have free elections.

      • Roger Mikael Klang

        Actually, NSA does not restrict the freedom of Americans, the NSA restricts the freedom of everyone else, except for the commonwealth countries. They can do so because the Americans own the World Wide Web.

        • LorCanada

          Oh? I thought it was Al Gore who invented and owned the world wide web!
          ;- )

      • Charles J. Kollman

        No Sir, i was not talking about the NSA. and the fact of them spying on the Citizens. With the use of looking at emails listening to citizens on their cell phones and now even drones. They have a secret group of Judges that are suppose to check and balance them. Puttypants if you are an American please do tell me when your elected officials told you what NSA. was doing and how they were doing it, and did they tell you about the secret court. I have been a member of Oathkeepers for some time now Google them.
        They were started, because of the treatment of Citizens in the area that Katrina hit and how their rights were taken away from them by Homeland Security and FEMA. both by the way against the Constitution. Read up on Sovereign State law read the Patriot Act.There was no need for this act of control of we the people. Please do read the Articles of The Constitution and you will find out why. Mr. Franklin you herd of him yes! He was a wise and clever man and he had much import in the writing of The Declaration of Independence that today is not law and he had input in the writing of the second Constitution that was written in 1787 and is law to this day. Two things he said. Madam you have a Republic now let’s see if you can keep it. Don’t give up a little freedom for security, because in the end you will have no freedom or security. I dislike greatly those in my government 97@ of Congress President Vice President and those in the black robes. They are progressives liberals socialists communists and fascists. I enjoy no one that says the Constitution is a living document or The Constitution is out dated and needs to be changed. This is what they do in Russia. I do not enjoy people in my government and this Government works for me not the other way around. I have hatred for those who show disrespect for The Flag Constitution and Military especially dead Veterans. Obama and his wife were disbarred as attorneys and attended rallies that were anti America. As i see it American does not have a President, because Obama is a fake fraud and false. He is a radical Muslim and a demestic enemy of America. As his wife said when the Flag was being folded all this time and for a fucking Flag. Do you really believe in your heart that he gives two shits about Ukraine. A few years ago this dumb bastard did not know where Ukraine was or what it was. Don’t shoot till you see the whites of their eyes. I rest my case.

        • puttypants

          Mr. Kollman…I too have many concerns about our government including the lack of knowledge by the American people. However, this president is a temporary situation that will change again in the next 2 years. I’m not as cynical about America as you are. I think we need to make more intelligent choices about who we hire to be our public servants and we need to keep working on it. However, do you know of better governments anywhere in the world? Let me know. I personally am concerned about both parties in the country they are more concerned about getting re-elected than doing the right thing for the country. But than again we can all argue about what the right things are to do. Yes, we are becoming more socialistic but that has been coming for a very long time from our educational system,Hollywood and our media. One would think that after seeing that communism doesn’t work the socialists/communists in this country would have learned something but they didn’t. We just need to keep working on getting it right. what other choice do we have? A party like Putin and his regime?
          I’m a Ukrainian American. I’m a grateful person becuase this country let us in after WW2 when nobody else would take us. I was very lucky my parents and brothers sacrificed so that my sis and I could get educated, get good jobs and have a good life here. I see my brothers and sisters in Ukraine not so lucky. I cry for them. A country that has been used, abused and thrown out in the rain by other countries. I am so sad and so angry about what is happening there now that I don’t know what else to do but to write on these sites and contribute money as I’m too old to go there and fight.

          • Charles J. Kollman

            Hello Mr. Puttypants and let me say to you Welcome to America. It’s good to have Ukrainian people living here that make good Americans and learn the language. As you know many are here from Central America and i find these people to be loud and have no respect for others. I know this, because i lived on Long Island and they have taken over. I grew up on Long Island at a time it was good. Brooklyn is on Long Island and part of NY. City. In this area is a section know as Brighten beach and in it is an area called Little Odessa. Many Ukrainians and Russian live there. I use to go there with a friend even before i meet my wife. My wife is a Ukrainian Citizen, but was born in Siberia Russia. At one time there was a two party system, but not now. It’s one party with two names and those in it lean to the left and others to the right. Obama is temporary, but the damage he has done is not. The word cynical referring to me is incorrect. I know my Country of today and i know it’s history. I do not sit on a sofa looking at TV. Call me a Constitutionalists, because that is what i am. It’s not what America can do for the soft fat dumb lazy gullible naive Moran’s. It’s what you can do for America. I was to Ukraine City of Illichivs’k for three months. My daughter-in-law was born in Siberia, but the husband was born in Ukraine as is their daughter. They also have fear, because they don’t know how to lean in what direction. I know more then most Americans about the history of Ukraine. The school system in America is no good, but the government likes it, they want dumb people. Try to bring your family to America get an attorney to help you. I am a member of the NRA. and Oathkeepers and i am a big supporter of the Second and First Amendments. This socialist tyrannical government is trying very hard to disarm the Citizens of their weapons. You see what now goes on in Ukraine now, it will soon go on right here. Now i am in the State of Pennsylvania and soon ride to Florida. I live in a travel trailer and i can move around at will. If we don’t like Florida then we ride to an area in South Carolina. Go on line and look up what the Oathkeepers are about. You may just like us.

    • LorCanada

      It seems you have an axe to grind regarding the “Bush” clan. That’s in the past by now. Time to look more forward.

      • Charles J. Kollman

        I have many axes to grind when it comes American Flag waving families.The Bush family are Fascist. I am sorry that i don’t have my head up my ass like most. The Bush Grandfather a US. Senator was a Nazi supporter and was doing business with Hitler that took an Act. meaning a law to stop scum bags like this. Boy Bush is another Fascist. If you don’t know the past then you will not understand today or tomorrow. We have been free in America since July 4,1776 and the second constitution became Law of the Land in 1787. So Mr. LorCanada your Territory know as Canada today had a chance to be the fourteenth Colony but chose to be suppressed by England to what 1967. Oh Canada great hockey players and a good socialist place to live if you like to be controlled. What was it 1980 or 1981 when there was a vote for Quebec to get out of Canada. I remember the vote took place in the month of May.

  • Michel Cloarec

    We only have to learn again what is fascism , especially coming from Kremlin.

    HOW TO REGNONIZE FASCISM :
    -Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism.
    –Catchy slogans, pride in the military, often XENOPHOBIA .
    -Disdain for the importance of human rights.
    –human rights has little value and a hindrance to realizing the objectives of the ruling elite
    -Identification of ennemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause.
    –Scapegoating as a means to divert the people´s attention from other problems.
    -The supremacy of militarism.
    –A disproportionate share of national resources allocated to the military, even when domestic needs are acute.
    -Rampant sexism.
    –Regimes inevitably wiew women as second-class citizens. Anti-abortion and also homophobic.
    -A controlled mass media.
    –strict direct control, never to stray away from party lines.
    -Obsession with national security.
    –Instrument of oppression. To critic the activities of the national security apparatus is unpatrioctic and even treasonous.
    -Religion and rulling elite tied together.
    –The regime attache themselves to the predominant religion and chose to portray themselves as militant defenders of that religion.
    -Power of corporations protected.
    –Members of the economic elite are pampered by the political elite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests.
    -Power of labour suppressed or eliminated.
    –The poor form an underclass, wiewed with suspicion or outright contempt.
    -Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts.
    –Intellectuals, and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression associated with them, are anathema to the regime.
    -Obsession with crime and punishment.
    –Most of these regimes maintain draconian systems of criminal justice with huge prison populations. The police is glorified and has unchecked power.Political crime are merged into trumped-up criminal charges, and used against political opponents.
    -Rampant cronyism and corruption.
    –Those in business circles and close to the power elite use their position to enrich themselves.This corruption works both ways; the power elite receive financial gifts and property from the economic elite, who in turn gain the befit of government favoritism.
    -Fraudulent elections.
    –Common methods: maintaining control of the election machinery, intimidating and disenfranchising opposition voters, destroying or disallowing legal votes.

  • Karboxilas .

    As a Czech I have to confirm that the pro-Russian propaganda is really strong in CR. But lately more and more people are aware of this.

    • Michel Cloarec

      Meet all Internet propaganda in a very strong way .

  • Lyssor_Anupev

    Yet the roads were lined by tens of thousands, who proudly carried US flags and heartly welcomed US soldiers. All those pro-russian trolls who seemingly overwhelmed czech internet were literary trampled to dust and only thing they produced was that more and more people considered their duty to go outside and show that Czech Republic is not supporting Russia…

    • Michel Cloarec

      From Nachod !

  • Michal Tichý

    Just situation around #DragonRide show that impact of pro-kremlin sympatisants in CZech Republic is very marginal: tenth thousands of common peoples have invited US soldiers as very welvcomed friends. Opposition has been very marginal.

    • Vojtěch

      Yes, exactly! This article makes it seem as though most of the country supports Russia.

      It doesn’t, we are sane!!

    • Jiří Hnídek

      I can confirm it too. There were only few pro-kremlin people around roads. Pro-russian and anti dragon ride propaganda had inverse effect: thousands of Czech people came to roads despite cold and rainy weather and they to supported American soldiers and proofed that Czech Republic belong to the West and not to East. Some photos are e.g. there: http://respekt.ihned.cz/fotogalerie/c1-63768750-uz-jedou

  • Vojtěch

    Hello. Since I’m an actual Czech person, I though I would write down my two cents of what’s been going on in the country as of late.

    While yes, a lot of protests have been planned against the convoy, many of them were either cancelled or the attendance at said events was underwhelming (maybe with the exception of the main one organised by KSČM). The largest anti-convoy facebook page was removed by its owner after an article was released about him — it turns out that he was just a 17-year old high schooler. Even before it was removed, the page turned into a parody of itself since most of the people joining were online trolls or people who were against the idea of protesting the troops.

    Eversince the route of the Dragon Ride was announced, KSČM has been bombarding us with article after article and statement after statement, actively comparing the 2-day drive through our country to the 1938 ocupation of Czechoslovakia.

    The Rusophiles in this country tend to switch sides fairly quickly, for example they loved our president when he invited Putin to Prague, and were quick to call him a traitor when he called the convoy protesters “anti-American crazies”.

    The support for the troops was unexpectedly large. Literally thousands of people came out of their homes today to meet and greet the US troops, a sight that was almost heart melting to me.

    A lot of people in this country have their heads on straight and are able to see through the blatant Russian and communist propaganda. Some, however, are not, but I believe that it is like this in every country that was a member of the Warsaw Pact, not just the Czech Republic.

    • Racquel

      That is good to hear. The people definitely speak louder than the government. I went onto a Czech Website to check the itinerary for the Dragoon Ride, and the opposition events were very descriptive, but the pro-Dragoon events were cursory, nondescript mentions. I think it was a government site but can’t confirm because my later attempts to reconnect kept failing. Hmm? Putin probably sabotaging! LOL! Good news, though, from the citizens :)

      • Lyssor_Anupev

        Point is that at least half of the opposition events were faked, staged by pro-NATO trolls who in fact totally disorganized most of opposition planning, because they fell into paranoia and ceased to trust each other. In the end, pro russian protesters are counted in dozens in maximum. Pro NATO activists lining the roads are counted in tenths of thousands. Overwhelming victory for NATO.

        • Racquel

          Even better news. Thank you, good Czech people.

  • Mazepa

    Funny! Organized by the same stupid clowns that are still crying over the destruction of that earlier, cesspool called the ‘soviet union’. The mockali know VERY WELL that they are in the process of being destroyed…..only this time, we will take the fight to the end. They will be annihilated. No mercy for stupid mockali this time.
    Guaranteed.

  • Petr Seberád

    I did not vote ANO, but they are not as bad as you describe. They are quite towards foreign affairs. They are alibistic

  • haralds elceris

    protesting since 1968?

  • Charles J. Kollman

    I think that all is not always as it is reported here. Best to check matters out.

  • Czech Friend

    Let me tell you friends, that I’m delighted how my citizens welcomed our allies. I’m also delighted how toothless Russian propaganda is in real world in our lands.

    But it shows the nature of Putin’s persona and regime. Deceitful, backstabbing and ultimately cowardly.

    Only strenghtens my conviction about our need to help Ukraine!

  • Jaka

    Ten článek je neskutečně tendenční ! Neobjektivní !

  • gavi ál

    fuck USA…

    • gavi ál

      We never be slave of USA!

  • gavi ál