Russia wants to meddle with Slovak elections, claims former defence minister

Pro-Western orientation of Slovaks diminishing, suggests Globsec survey.

Former defence minister Jaroslav Naď.Former defence minister Jaroslav Naď. (Source: TASR - Dano Veselský)

Speaking on the politics talk show Na Telo on private TV Markíza, former defence minister Jaroslav Naď (Demokrati) said that the three top constitutional officials received intelligence, which indicates that Russia harbours plans to manipulate elections in Slovakia to benefit Robert Fico's Smer party.

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"We received intelligence from abroad that talks about a single person, time and place, when a citizen of Slovakia was in Russia to receive financial resources to benefit the Smer party and manipulate elections," Naď claimed on Sunday.

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Related article Disinformation hunter: Slovakia is in a hybrid war Read more 

Fico wants above-standard result

According to Naď, the police are investigating the information.

"When someone wants to manipulate the elections here, Russia is behind it and it uses Trojan horses, including the Smer party," Naď said.

Former interior minister Robert Kaliňák (Smer), also on the show, called the claim nonsense, adding that the party is concerned about potential election fraud too, but one committed by the state due to the gradual digitisation of election systems. In this context, he expressed suspicion of possible manipulation of the 2003 referendum on Slovakia's entry into the EU, which, according to him, "no one is interested in investigating in detail," Kaliňák said, claiming he did not want to look into the alleged manipulation back in the day so as not to question Slovakia's membership.

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Kaliňák also accused Naď of constantly providing no details, only referring to a secret source.

On Monday, Smer chair Robert Fico called Naď's claim "stupid" and added that his party wants to achieve an "above-standard result" in the elections.

Smer has been leading pre-election polls for several months now.

Former prime minister Eduard Heger (Demokrati) admitted that he knew about the intelligence. Speaker of Parliament Boris Kollár (Sme Rodina) and President Zuzana Čaputová declined to comment.

Related article Why Russia is winning the information war in Slovakia Read more 

Russian propaganda seems to work

The latest Globsec Trends survey suggests that the pro-Western orientation of the Slovak population is diminishing.

For example, despite being a frontline state, only 58 percent of people in Slovakia say that they would vote to remain in NATO if a referendum on the issue were to be held now. Russia is viewed as a threat by 54 percent, while 50 percent perceive the US as a threat.

According to a survey made shortly before the war in Ukraine, 44.1 percent believed that the US and NATO were to blame for the tension with Russia. Nine years ago, when Russia's military intervention in Crimea and Donbas was underway, 83 percent of people in Slovakia opposed Russia's aggression against Ukraine.

The technocratic government could adopt a strategy in the fight against hoaxes, said PM Ľudovít Ódor on May 29.

"I personally do not think that we have so many citizens who have extremist views," said the PM, admitting that Slovakia has neglected the fight against disinformation over the last decade.

"These people receive only one-sided information from often unverified sources or intentionally distorted facts, and therefore cannot correctly evaluate what the real situation is," Ódor added.

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