Czechs in “information war” with Russians, Pavel tells conference
An international conference on Ukraine organised by Czech Radio on the occasion of its 100th anniversary took place in Prague on Thursday. The event, focusing on the role of public media in covering the events in Ukraine was attended by, among others, American academic Marci Shore and Russian opposition journalist Zhanna Nemtsova.
The conference, entitled Media and Ukraine, opened on Thursday morning at the Jatka 78 venue in Prague’s district of Holešovice with a speech by Czech President Petr Pavel, who pointed out that the war in Ukraine was not being waged only in the physical world, but also in people’s minds.
“It is a struggle for public opinion. Whether outside observers are able to distinguish the victim from the aggressor. Whether the government of the invading country can defend its actions to its citizens. Whether the government of the invaded country can maintain the hope of its population in victory. This is the nature of the information war of which we are part.”
Mr. Pavel also said that the Russian President Vladimir Putin had been long preparing the ground for invading of Ukraine with his speeches.
He also highlighted the role of the media in conflicts and thanked war correspondents, many of whom were present at the conference, for their work.
Another keynote speech was supposed to be delivered by Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko. He couldn’t make it to Prague in the end, but gave an interview to Czech Radio:
“Media right now are often much more important than weapons. Putin understands that well, and tries to use fake news about special operations, about Ukraine never existing as an independent country. It is no secret.
“I was born in the Soviet Union. My father was a communist. I know what it means to live in a dictatorship. It is not a secret that Putin want to rebuild the Soviet Empire.
“That is why unity around Ukraine is key for peace and freedom. Please, be pro-active. We have to do everything to do to bring peace to Ukraine and peace to Europe.”
Among those who also addressed the audiences at the Czech Radio conference was a Soviet-born British columnist Peter Pomeranzev, who noted that the future of the conflict in Ukraine was very much in our own hands:
“This is really a war that has shown that pressure from below, pressure from civil society, has managed to ensure that the great powers of the world have remained interested in the conflict.
“This is a war that starts with the energy and the desire and the focus of the Ukrainian people to make their case to the world and to enlist support and the reaction that causes in everyone.
“When politicians see how deeply the Ukrainian cause resonates, they act. So this war will be decided by us, in many ways. By all of you.”