The Czech Republic is awash with projects claiming to fight Russian disinformation…
The Semantic Visions is a company owned by my high school classmate, Jan Barta. I know Mr. Barta very well and have been at his chateau recently. Back in school we drank together and did mischief. I know his character well, and I must say he is a total Russophobe. His family was forced to leave Czechoslovakia and he himself was born in the United States. Enough reasons to hate the Russians. But on this blog I do not condone individuals that are driven by emotions, especially if they try to influence the public. You do not have to love the Russians but in the interests of our country, you should keep the head cool, which is something Barta is incapable of, and we have all heard stories about his cocaine problem (not like yours truly is innocent in this but Barta’s case was way out of hand).
The mission of the Semantic Visions is to fight disinformation, particularly that coming from Russia but also domestic, say for instance in connection with the Covid pandemic. The Semantic Visions considers as disinformation, anything that conflicts with the official line, according to Wikipedia. This means that, for instance, should you criticise the wearing of face masks, saying that the unfortunate populace that wears them breaths all the dust that settles on the cloth, and there isn’t any proof they help to mitigate the spread of the illness, you are guilty of disinformation. Such an orientation is totalitarian but such is any such project dealing with disinformation in the Czech Republic. And there are quite a few, I wonder how does the Semantic Visions fare in such a saturated market? We already have European Values, and Manipulatori.cz to name a few. But then again, I do not mind Russophobic scum spending money on fighting wind mills, it is their business, I just reserve the right to call them out.
Let’s have a look at Semantic Visions report about Russian disinformation in connection with the Vrbětice scandal. It will help us understand what they are all about. I quote from their summary:
Czech disinformation sources are pushing staunchly pro-Kremlin coverage of the GRU scandal, in line with their established history of Kremlin-aligned and anti-Western agitation. These sources frequently amplify Russian disinformation narratives and official Kremlin talking points, and support domestic political actors that advocate populist, pro-Kremlin positions, like the far-right SPD party, the Communist Party (KSČM), and the notoriously Putin-friendly Czech president, Miloš Zeman.
It is a testament to the illness of the Czech politics that the president, who does not have much power in our parliamentary democracy, and two opposition parties that each do not score over 10% in the national elections, are the only people, who are asking for concrete evidence the Russian superagents, Petrov and Boshirov were behind the explosions. The public hasn’t seen any such evidence, only fakes and gibberish of the official media.
However, despite their proKremlin orientation, the majority of these sites have no evident links to the Russian state, and do not produce content in coordination with Russian media. Their primary drivers are profit (i.e., ad revenues) and social influence.
Actually, most of these so called pro-Russian people are more staunchly pro-Czech than they are in any way pro-Kremlin. Unlike the people that have set up the Semantic Visions, there are people, and they are many, who think that it is in the interest of our country to have healthy relations with Russia. And unsubstantiated accusations and Russophobic hysteria is not conducive to building an environment of trust between the two nations.
And yes I love the clicks. I would go even further here, and say most Czech outlets that display pro-Russian orientation do so because they are disgusted with what is happening in Czech politics and media. The way the Czech Television, publicly funded through TV license, lied to us during the Ukraine crisis made many turn to blogging for better or worse.
Specifically, Czech disinformation media have sought to ridicule and discredit the official government account of what happened in Vrbětice, in particular the evidence of Russia’s involvement. To this end, they have offered several alternative explanations as well as conspiracy theories about the government’s motivations for pointing the finger at the GRU, suggesting that it is a ploy to escalate the conflict between Russia and the West, instigated by the United States.
For many months, the US State Department voiced its displeasure with Czech plans to buy Russian vaccine, Sputnik V, and the possibility of Russian nuclear power company, Rosatom winning the competition to build additional blocks of the Dukovany power plant. Then suddenly, Vrbětice hoax was planted. The Czech secret service, the BIS, which is long suspected to be linked with Western intelligence services put a wrench into these plans with a cool story about Petrov and Boshirov.
The Russian disinformation response to the disclosure of the GRU’s role in Vrbětice was immediate and has followed the same blueprint as in other cases where Russia’s criminal activity has been exposed, like the annexation of Crimea and the Skripal poisoning. Russian officials and pro-government media deny any Russian involvement in the explosion and dismiss the Czech government’s response as an attempt to score points in Washington’s “war of sanctions”. Indeed, the dominant narratives in Russian media alternatively attribute the scandal to US puppeteering in the Czech Republic and the alleged “Russophobia” of Czech authorities. In this context, there is a noteworthy difference in the negative coverage of Prime Minister Babiš’s government, which has mandated the diplomatic expulsions and considers the GRU attack an act of state terrorism, and positive coverage of President Zeman, who has falsely claimed that there is no evidence of Russian intelligence involvement in the explosion.
If the Czechs ridiculed the Petrov and Boshirov affair, the Russians were laughing out load and remembering the Good Soldier Švejk. Motherfuckers from Semantic Visions are welcome to visit Crimea and tell the locals the Russian actions were criminal and they should all return back to fascist Ukraine into the warm embrace of Stepan Bandera. And then continue to Donbas and tell everybody how nice Ukraine is, and Russia is criminal.
The Czechs have literally admitted they are facilitating the sale of weapons to Ukrainian Nazis and Sunni fanatics in Syria. This is something incredibly shameful.
Pro-Kremlin disinformation efforts in both Russia and the Czech Republic received a significant boost from a speech by President Zeman, made on April 25, in which he contradicted the official Czech government position about the GRU’s involvement and suggested instead that the explosion may have been caused by the mishandling of ammunition. The speech was heavily promoted by Russian-language media, which praised Zeman for not “caving in” to pressure from the United States. Czech disinformation websites likewise endorsed it as a “voice of reason” amid all the “Russophobic hysteria”.
Russophobic hysteria is exactly what the Semantic Visions is trying to peddle here. Zeman is a man of honour here, and because I am certain none of the fuckers in Semantic Visions voted for him, even I did not, at least here you see why the public chose this guy twice.
The Kremlin’s disinformation campaign is unlikely to subside quickly, considering the strategic interests are at stake. Beyond dealing a major blow to Russia’s intelligence infrastructure in Europe and unifying Western allies in stronger opposition to Russian subversive activity, this latest scandal jeopardizes two of the Kremlin’s key strategic objectives: 1) to win soft power points through the provision of the Sputnik V vaccine to more European countries, and 2) to secure the contract for the Czech Dukovany nuclear plant, worth more than 10 billion USD, on behalf of Rosatom. Such control of critical energy infrastructure is a key vector of Russian political and economic influence in Europe.
Guys, this is exactly why the Vrbětice hoax was planted. But here we see another common element, which the fighters with Russian disinformation display. They are trying to tell the public that the Czech space is somehow important to Russia. If they told the truth, and that is that the Czechs are basically viewed by the Russians as a bunch of hillbillies worthy of 20 minutes of air time whenever they do something stupid against Russia, they would likely have to close shop.
Russia is scoring points with the Sputnik V vaccine elsewhere, and an ethnic bantustan of 10 million people does not really interest it, and they do not care what the Czechs think. It is in the interest of the Czechs to have a vaccine, and it is the Czechs that have a low rate of vaccination so far. I have seen the Victory Parade in Moscow yesterday, and nobody was wearing a mask. While Czech pubs are closed, pubs in Russia are opened. Who really gives a damn if the Czechs do not want to be saved?
As for Dukovany, one Rosatom CEO, a Czech guy by the name Šíma, even said that Rosatom is building over 30 reactors worldwide, and one more reactor in the Czech Republic is not going to change much. Bankrupt Westinghouse that is being passed around like hot potato between investment funds is welcome to build nuclear power plants for twice the price but I have doubts anything will actually be built. I have yet to see any coherent energy strategy that does not include nuclear energy and natural gas, and a lot of this depends heavily on Russian supplies. We will have a low energy future if we listen to Semantic Visions. And low energy future will bring us closer to Ukraine.
So to sum up, Semantic Visions is selling a Russophobic snake oil, and I am already a bit tired of the Vrbětice affair. However, another related article is coming up…