The COVID-19 outbreak caused a global public health crisis, but unfortunately, its impacts go far beyond the health dimension. Since the beginning of the crisis, disinformation actors have played a key role in spreading disinformation and hoaxes.
United Russia party gained a majority of votes in a parliamentary election accompanied by alleged widespread violations. While observers report cases of forced voting and vote-rigging, Russian officials shift the blame to foreign media and NGOs. Their rhetoric is echoed by the pro-Russian disinformation media.
The rapid fall of the Afghan government and the hasty evacuation of refugees from Kabul’s airport provided ample opportunity for disinformation actors and media to spread streams of anti-American, anti-NATO and anti-refugee narratives. Accordingly, disinformation proliferated in the Slovak information space regarding the recent events in Afghanistan.
In the country of the Vistula River fiction is more and more often surpassing reality. In fact, it becomes reality before Poles’ very eyes. Moreover, they begin to arrange themselves in it, stunned by events that would have been unimaginable for the average person just a few weeks before. However, Poles, who are accustomed to living in the fumes of absurdity, quickly tame the next shock and come to terms with it.
On August 10, the Slovak cabinet approved a series of changes to the COVID automat – an emotionally charged topic that had led to several anti-government protests in recent weeks. The new changes are due to come into force on August 16. They come after the last set of restrictions regarding the border regime was suspended by the Slovak Constitutional Court, giving the people who only got the 1st dose of vaccine the same rights as those who are unvaccinated.
There are few issues in Poland on which all major parties have been in agreement for years. One of them is Nord Stream 2. Successive governments have tried to stop the construction of the gas pipeline and none has succeeded. Instead of wringing hands, getting offended at the whole world and threatening to break alliances, it is essential to draw conclusions from this defeat. Let’s start with a few obvious ones.
President Vladimir Putin is proposing to renew cooperation with Europe, which is to be welcomed because Russia is an important country. I believe, however, that in taking this step we should remember the history. We understand the pain of the former members of the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, President Putin should equally understand the pain of those nations that suffered great injustices from the Soviet Union.
During his first trip to Europe, Joe Biden kept repeating that ‘America is back’. We have to wait for the long-term effects of this visit, though. Only after some time we will see whether specific political decisions will follow handshakes and declarations. Nevertheless, we can already see that America under its new leadership is more pragmatic, predictable, and surrounded by allies, and therefore stronger.
The disinformation actors also stick to their traditional topics including Covid-19 and anti-vaccination narratives. The passing of a popular Slovak presenter Julo Viršík at the age of 56 due to cardiac arrest, who was recently vaccinated with AstraZeneca’s vaccine, served as a pretext for the renewed spread of anti-vax narratives by the disinformation media.