Wednesday, 18 July 2018

PM: Czech gov't takes risk of influencing elections seriously

ČTK |
4 December 2017

Prague, Dec 1 (CTK) - Czech PM Bohuslav Sobotka assured Jiri Drahos, a contender for presidency, that the cabinet and other responsible institutions take seriously the risk of a possible rigging of elections in the country by disinformation spread from abroad, the Government Office announced on Friday.

After meeting Sobotka this morning, Drahos said he is afraid that results of Czech elections have been influenced by foreign secret services by means of disinformation.

The Government Office wrote in a press release that Drahos informed Sobotka, the outgoing prime minister, about his fears of a possible violation of the democratic course of elections, including the January direct presidential election, in which he runs as one of nine bidders, by spread of disinformation.

"I assured Mr Drahos that the government takes these risks seriously. The state must ensure a democratic course of the presidential election and that the election takes place in accordance with the constitution and valid laws," wrote Sobotka, whose government is ruling in resignation pending the appointment of a new cabinet based on the October general election results.

"The state's responsible institutions pay attention to this and I believe that the new government will do so as well," Sobotka said, referring to the government that is being formed by the election-winning leader Andrej Babis and is to be appointed by President Milos Zeman on December 13.

Drahos told CTK earlier on Friday that his meeting with Sobotka had a preventive character. He pointed out Russia's influence on the elections in the USA, France and Germany, and said he expects similar influences on the Czech presidential election.

The Czech counter-intelligence service (BIS) said it has no serious information on foreign secret services unlawfully influencing elections in the Czech Republic.

In summer, Drahos faced online news describing him as an aide of the communist secret police (StB) during the previous regime. In reaction to this, he released his negative screening certificate that rules out such cooperation on his part.

Radek Schovanek, a researcher from the Centre for the documenting of totalitarian regimes, said the disinformation was "an expedient effort to defame Drahos's name and influence the result of the presidential election."

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