Ministry pokes fun at “Kremlin fairy tales” in social media campaign

Kremlin fairy tale

Prague has been hitting back at propaganda launched after Czechia recently refused a Russian “summons” to the UN Security Council. With the social media campaign “Pro-Kremlin Fairy Tales”, the Czech Foreign Ministry is using humour to highlight the absurdity of Russian claims, combining storybook images with biting commentary. Karel Smékal, head of communications at the ministry, explains.

Kremlin fairy tale | Photo: Czech Foreign Ministry

“This particular campaign is reacting to a number of preposterous statements from the Russian side that we noticed in the last couple of weeks.

“Of course, when those statements appeared the first, principal reaction that Czechia had, and has, is the official one, made by official diplomatic statement.

“But since in the last weeks we noticed that Russian propaganda has taken aim at Czechia in several cases we felt that it would be OK to also react in a maybe slightly non-traditional way.

Kremlin fairy tale | Photo: Czech Foreign Ministry

“Being the Ministry of Foreign Affairs we of course have two audiences. We have an audience in third countries abroad, but on foreign policy topics we also have an audience here in Czechia – fellow Czech citizens.

“Of course the Russian propaganda is targeting Czech citizens as well. So it was natural to comment on these Russian statements, even towards Czech citizens.”

Generally speaking it seems to me that the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs is quite active on social media. Practically speaking, what does it mean for the ministry to be successful on social media and to have hits, posts that get a lot of reactions?

Kremlin fairy tale | Photo: Czech Foreign Ministry

“Of course first of all we are public service, and civil service. So the main motivation is not to be gathering hits. We don’t have this, let’s say, influence mentality.

“We are public service and therefore we try to communicate to Czech citizens in the most effective way.

“In this particular case, it’s very much intertwined in the Czech DNA that when we meet a certain level of absurdity – and the statements of Russia in the past weeks, and not just in the past weeks, have reached a certain level of absurdity – we react with humour.

Kremlin fairy tale | Photo: Czech Foreign Ministry

“We can see it The Good Soldier Švejk, we can see it in Václav Havel’s absurd plays – it is something that is very Czech.

“Therefore in this particular case, since the level of absurdity has reached a level where the Czechs naturally react with humour, that’s the direction we chose.”

Sometimes the Czech MFA uses quite forthright language about Russia. You don’t pull many punches and say what you think. How do you get the balance right in terms of the language that you use?

Kremlin fairy tale | Photo: Czech Foreign Ministry

“Let me just say that the public communication on social media that we are talking about is always mirroring the official communication and diplomatic language.

“Of course diplomatic language too has a certain scale of, let’s say, sassiness, and the communication that we are choosing on social media is mirroring in this the level of communication that we are using in diplomatic channels.

“At the same time, I think it’s safe to say that if someone is threatening you your response can be, and has to be, let’s say, sassy. That is something very natural, and I believe that that is the right approach.”