Initiative to Raise Awareness About Pro-Russian Disinformation

The sophisticated and well-organized pro-Russian disinformation campaigns have been a cause for concern among many European institutions. Due to their ability to undermine social cohesion and act as a destabilizing force, these activities have flooded the political and public debate. As a result, members of media, civil societies as well as state institutions are faced with a myriad of challenges concerning the most appropriate response to Moscow’s disinformation offensive that targets the core pillars of democracy.

In 2015, PSSI launched a new initiative with the aim to highlight the pro-Russian disinformation tendendencies and their pattern of conduct across the CEE region. It is headed by PSSI’s Ivana Smoleňová.

EVENTS

International Expert Conference

On May 31, PSSI organized a one-day conference "Countering Pro-Russian Disinformation: Current Challenges and the Way Forward." The two closed-door roundtables were complemented with a public discussion that involved three Ukrainian activists.

The overall aim was to assess Western preparedness and discuss various initiatives/ best practices that could be used to effectively counter pro-Russian disinformation. The closed-door roundtables provided a unique platform for experts from the Visegrad countries (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia), along with journalists and activists from Ukraine, to share their knowledge and experience.

Among the participants were:

  • Roman Shutov, Program Director at Detector Media and Telekritika, Ukraine;
  • Natalia Kurdiukova, Head of the Nakipelo and Kharkiv Crisis Infocenter, Ukraine;
  • Ivan Syniepalov, Head of Gramadske TV of Azov, Ukraine;
  • Péter Krekó, Director of Political Capital Institute, Hungary;
  • Ivana Smolenova, Fellow, Communication and Outreach Manager, PSSI, Czech Republic;
  • Ondřej Soukup, Journalist, Hospodářské noviny, Czech Republic;
  • Adam Reichardt, Editor-in-Chief, New Eastern Europe, Poland;
  • Peter Jančárik, Co-founder of Konspiratori.sk, Slovakia
  • Dušan Fischer, Fellow, Slovak Foreign Policy Association, Slovakia
  • Tomáš Čižík, Director, Centre for European and North Atlantic Affairs, Slovakia;
  • Maryana Drach, Director, Ukrainian Service, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Czech Republic

Public Lecture on Russian Disinformation in Ukraine.

On May 31, PSSI, in cooperation the Václav Havel Library and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, organized a public lecture "Russian Propaganda and Disinfromation in Ukraine"

More than two years have passed since the outbreak of the conflict in eastern Ukraine and Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea. These events not only challenged the post-Cold War European security order, but also brought the fundamental role of media into sharp focus. Manipulation of information and biased reporting has been a key feature. To what extent has the media landscape changed since Maidan? What kind of challenges are associated with Russian disinformation and does it still play a key role in influencing public opinion? And how can the West and civil societies contribute to overcoming these formidable tasks? 

Among the speakers were:

  • Roman Shutov, Program Director at Detector Media and Telekritika, Kiev, Ukraine (http://www.telekritika.ua/) 
  • Natalia Shuga, Head of the NGO Kharkiv Crisis Infocenter, Kharkov, Ukraine (http://civilforum.com.ua/)
  • Ivan Syniepalov, Head of Gramadske TV of Azov, Mariupol, Ukraine (http://priazov.tv/)


The debate was moderated by Ondřej Soukup, journalist and former Moscow correspondent for the Czech daily Hospodářské Noviny.

You can watch the video here.

Media Freedom at the EU Borders

On February 18, PSSI, in cooperation with the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and American Center in Prague, organized a public discussion "Media Freedom at the EU Borders" about the state of media in countries lacking a free press: Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Serbia.

The public discussion presented experience of 4 young journalists:

  • Safie Ablyaeva, Vaclav Havel Journalism Fellow, Ukraine
  • Zaur Gurbanli, Vaclav Havel Journalism Fellow, Azerbaijan
  • Daina Munasipova, Vaclav Havel Journalism Fellow, Russia
  • Jasmina Lazic, Jiri Dientsbier Journalism fellow, Serbia

The discussion was moderated by Pavel Fischer, Director of STEM Institute and former political advisor to late Czech President Vaclav Havel.