Slovak Maidan will come after amnesties are scrapped is a hoax

This is the overview of hoaxes that appeared over the past week.

Parliament cancelled the amnesties of Vladimír Mečiar.Parliament cancelled the amnesties of Vladimír Mečiar. (Source: Sme - Vladimír Šimíček)

Amnesties are attempt for a coup

The US and the third sector are preparing a state coup in Slovakia. They allegedly aim to overthrow the government of Robert Fico, create a government of experts controlled by President Andrej Kiska, and subsequently proceed with the planned sale of Slovakia’s drinking water reserves, mineral springs, and land to foreign investors.

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An article that claims all these things has been shared by almost a thousand people on Facebook. The hoax was originally published by the website. But it is so absurd that even the readers themselves expressed their doubts in the online discussion that it might be an April Fool’s prank.

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Read also: The Sme daily starts a hunt for hoaxes Read more 

The article is based on an alleged statement of opposition OĽaNO MP Veronika Remišová that the aim of the abrogation of the Meciar amnesties is the fall of Fico’s government. But such a statement cannot be found in any archives.

The article only quotes a little-known blog that cites Remišová’s criticism of Fico’s government. The MP compared it with the government of Vladimír Mečiar in a televised debate on RTVS, because she saw a parallel between the fact that Mečiar and his government took the power to appoint the secret service director (originally the president had that power), and the fact that Fico’s government is now taking the competence to appoint the head of the regulatory office ÚRSO.

It is unclear how the author of the article derived the plan to overthrow the current government from this statement. Particularly if the ruling coalition headed by Smer supports the scrapping of the amnesties.

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Further fake information in the article is that the opposition would not be able to put together a new government because Kotleba’s ĽSNS would be in its way. The article cites “leaked polls” that allegedly show the support of ĽSNS at 25 percent. The only source that came up with such numbers were disputable charts that were circulating on the social networks, without source or method stated. According to trustworthy polls, the party never polled at more than half of that number.

The rest of the article is only composed of conspiracies and unfounded conclusions with the main protagonists being the US, President Kiska, including the claim that one year ago he was considering converting to the Jewish faith. The author thus concludes that Kiska does not like being Slovak.

Most of the “alternative” media found themselves in a curious situation over the amnesties. They defend the amnesties and see their scrapping as lawlessness, even though under any other circumstances they are always standing “against the system”.

The Zem a Vek conspiracy magazine published an article that says the abrogation of the Mečiar amnesties is only a test. It claims the EU wants to test the reaction of Slovaks to this fundamental legal step, to find out how to proceed with dismantling of the nation states.

The author completely ignores the fact that the Mečiar amnesties have been hanging over Slovakia since 1998, at which time the EU had 15 members and Slovakia could only dream about its membership.

The article also refers to the false information that no country in the world has so far dared to scrap amnesties. But there are known cases from Peru and Argentina where courts allowed the cancellation of amnesties that the ruling power bestowed upon itself.

The author also sees parallels between Mečiar’s amnesties and the fall of the Polish government plane, and claims that the renewed investigation of the Smolensk tragedy is a similar test on the part of the EU. The problem with that claim is that it is the current Polish government that is pushing for the investigation, and it is not known to have very good relations with the EU.

Conspiracy magazine complains about hoax hunting

The fight against “propaganda on conspiracy websites” brings Slovakia back to the 1950s. This is a claim from a recent article of the known conspiracy magazine Zem a Vek, which addresses the recently planned strengthening of the computer criminality department of the Interior Ministry. There will be 12 new police officers who will follow disinformation campaigns, propaganda, and hoaxes in Slovakia.

The magazine suggests it to be an “anti-democratic” measure that suppresses freedom of speech and practically takes Slovakia back to the 1950s. The author even expresses concerns that the department could be used for “ideological, political, and geopolitical aims that are in contrast with the interests of Slovakia”, and claims that it is aimed at limiting the citizens’ freedom to choose their geopolitical orientation.

Read also: American military base in Slovakia and war in Europe are hoaxes Read more 

All the claims in the article are easily proven to be hoaxes, using accessible sources.

1. Keeping an eye on disinformation and conspiracy websites is “anti-democratic” - there are a number of studies that have proved how propaganda and hoaxes influence public opinion and decisions of citizens. Therefore, it is logical that if there are activities being pursued on the state’s territory that threaten the internal security of the state and its citizens, the state should take measures. The Interior Ministry, the secret service, and other sources claim that Slovakia is a target of propaganda and disinformation campaigns that undermine people’s trust in state and European institutions. Which means the ministry’s measure strengthens democracy and freedom of speech when it helps identify conspiracy websites and media that spread hoaxes.

2. The department can be used for “ideological, political, and even geopolitical aims”. This is an unfounded and illogical claim again, as Slovakia is a member of NATO and EU, and the strategic documents like the country’s security strategy from 2005 confirm that. Conspiracy websites and media that spread hoaxes and pro-Russian propaganda label these institutions as criminal and fascist. These websites thus act in contrast with Slovakia’s interests, therefore, the measure is rightly directed against them.

3. The measure should suppress the freedom of citizens to choose their geopolitical orientation. In 2003, a referendum took place in Slovakia in which 92.46 percent of the voters who turned out (52.15 percent) voted in favour of Slovakia’s EU entry. Citizens thus freely chose the geopolitical orientation of their country to be pro-western, democratic, and liberal.

4. “Neoliberal politicians and their ‘correctly thinking’ journalists” are behind everything. This is a typical conspiracy claim that all the “alternative” media work with, in an attempt to show that the traditional media cooperate with political elites and try to cover up the truth, while “alternative” media uncover the secret facts and conspiracies. Just think how often “alternative” media participated in uncovering actual scandals and corruption. They only write about Putin, Russia, NATO, Trump, chemtrails, anti-vax, NATO, fascists, neocons, and similar themes, but no corruption and embezzlement in the state.

By Tomáš Čížik, director of the Centre for European and North-Atlantic Affairs.

“Putin’s peace call” reappears

NATO expects Russia to give up its territories and the US want to start a war to get over their debt crisis and kickstart their arms industry, says a letter that has recently circulated the social networks again. It is allegedly an open letter authored by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In the text of the letter, the author addresses fellow citizens of Europe and warns them of the alleged non-democratic ways in Ukraine, the attitude of the EU towards Russia, and calls for the boycott of politicians who favour sanctions, and a boycott of Ukraine’s entry into NATO.

Most recently, the hoax letter was published by the religious-conspiracy blog K svetlu (To the light). Their article, with the headline “Call for peace! Europeans, do we really want World War III?” has been circulating the internet for over two years now, and it has been proved to be a hoax numerous times.

The letter appeared surfaced back in December 2014 on the Svobodne Noviny website. At that time, however, it was not signed with the name “Vladimir Vladimirovič Putin”. The website states as the source of the text the former SNS politician Sergej Chelemendik who died in May 2016. The open letter looks like his personal call, and the name of the Russian president was only added as a signature in its later versions.

The website labelled the letter as untrustworthy in February 2015 and confirmed that the text does not come from the official websites of the Russian president and is spread almost exclusively in Slovak and Czech.

The fake letter appears on social networks and on various conspiracy websites periodically, every year, despite the fact that the letter is in reaction to the events surrounding the conflict in Ukraine in 2014.

The Slovak Spectator brings the selection of hoaxes that were published on the internet and shared by Slovak users on social networks in cooperation with the Sme daily, which runs the project aimed at spotting hoaxes and confronting them with facts.

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