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Vrbětice case study

Effective policies and international cooperation for countering disinformation

The case under investigation concerns the explosion of ammunition depots in the village of Vrbětice in Czechia. In April 2021, the Czech Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior announced that the explosion was caused by Russian operatives responsible for the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the UK in 2018. However, following this announcement, pro-Kremlin disinformation sources in Czechia and Slovakia began spreading misinformation to create confusion and undermine citizens’ confidence in the official investigation. The overlap of the Czech and Slovak information spaces and the non-existent language barrier contributed to the rapid spread of disinformation.

As a practical outcome, the project aims to provide recommendations to institutions and authorities on countering such massive disinformation campaigns and what preventive measures to take. The project defined specific criteria that enabled the creation of a set of recommendations for each country separately. To achieve this goal, the project employed a new software for online analysis developed by Gerulata Technologies (a Slovakian company). Notably, the project does not end when the project time runs out; rather, it creates a mechanism applicable even after the project is over.

This project was realized with the support of the European Media and Information Fund (EMIF), managed by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.