Russia exploits attempt on Fico to play victim - British expert

Russia exploits attempt on Fico to play victim - British expert

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Russian propaganda and pro-Russian actors in Europe are trying to exploit the assassination attempt on Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico to portray themselves and their allies as victims while claiming that Ukraine and the West are real “villains”.

That’s according to Dr Jade McGlynn, a Research Fellow with the Department of War Studies, King’s College London, who gave an exclusive comment to Ukrinform.

“When Robert Fico, Prime Minister of Slovakia, was shot on 15th of May, Russian propaganda wasted no time in spreading the argument, almost in unison, that Ukraine was somehow to blame. Nevermind that there was no evidence, nevermind that President Zelensky immediately condemned the attack, and nevermind that it would ultimately come to light that the assailant had strong links with a pro-Russian party,” she noted.

Read also: Attempt on Fico: Russian propaganda desperately trying to put blame on Ukraine

What mattered to the propagandists, the expert believes, was seizing the opportunity to further undermine Ukraine and to spread strife and conflict within European societies.

However, looking deeper at the spin, an attempt is seen “to further entrench a narrative that Russia has unfortunately been quite successful with among certain audiences that are receptive to such messages”.

She recalled Leonid Slutsky, the chairman of Russia’s Foreign Affairs Committee and leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, who blamed “not so much Ukraine but Western hegemony and its efforts to impose its liberal and individualist order for the attack@.

Read also: Zelensky condemns attempt on Fico: Violence must not become norm in any country

Florian Filippo, a French presidential candidate who is closely linked to the Kremlin, according to the expert, claimed that the attack “was caused by Fico’s refusal to provide ammunition and weapons for Ukraine”.

On a separate note, McGlynn recalls that this was an unpopular move that Slovak citizens sought to remedy by quickly raising $3 million for ammunition for Ukraine.

“As the disinformation that was initially used fades from view and probably from memory, the main arguments, such as those put out by Fillippo and Slutsky, remain: the notion that Russia and all of those who range against the West are the real victims, that it is they who are in the underdog position, and that it is the West that is ultimately trying antidemocratically to impose its view and its will on the world,” said the expert.

It is important, McGlynn notes, to look at the ways that Russia and pro-Russian actors then use disinformation “to reentrench a view in which they are the victim and the West alongside Ukraine is the villain”.

As Ukrinform reported earlier, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico survived an assassination attempt on May 15 after an assailant, a 71-year-old Slovak man, shot him five times.

President Volodymyr Zelensky condemned the attack that he called appalling, as did other world leaders.

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