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Czech Republic opens center to combat Russian propaganda

09.01.2017, 11:09

The Czech government is to set up a specialist “anti-fake news” unit as officials attempt to tackle falsehoods, predominantly about migrants, which they claim are spread by websites supported by the government of Russian president Vladimir Putin, the Guardian reports.

The new unit will aim to counteract interference in the Czech Republic’s forthcoming general election, to be held in October. Part of the interior ministry, the new Centre Against Terrorism and Hybrid Threats will begin operating on 1 January with 20 full-time specialists.

The specialists will scrutinise disinformation and attempt to counter it, via a dedicated Twitter account and a new section of the interior ministry website devoted to communicating the government viewpoint. The centre will also train civil servants to avoid blackmail and resist foreign lobbying.

“Ensuring free and fair elections is a basic aim,” said a senior official in the unit, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Although definite links are hard to prove, officials say they are convinced the Kremlin is behind about 40 Czech-language websites presenting radical views, conspiracy theories and inaccurate reports. The officials believe the objective is to transform the Czech Republic’s current status as a western-aligned country.

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