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Czech party proposes lower house security committee be led by man who has spread disinformation online

23.11.2017 11:22
The Czech-language Facebook groups that Radek Koten of the
The Czech-language Facebook groups that Radek Koten of the "Freedom and Direct Democracy" party is a member of in 2017.

The "Freedom and Direct Democracy" (SPD) movement is proposing that its vice-chair, Radim Fiala, be appointed as the head of the Economic Committee of the Czech lower house and that Radek Koten, its top candidate from the Vysočina Region, be appointed as the head of the Security Committee. SPD chair Tomio Okamura told the media on 20 November prior to the beginning of the constitutive session of the Chamber of Deputies that Koten's record is untarnished with respect to security.

Fiala also told the press that Koten has no relationships with either Russia or the United States of America. Koten has been or is a member, however, of Czech-language Facebook groups that are anti-American and pro-Russian.

Support for the idea that Okamura's movement would head both committees in the newly-elected lower house was expressed last week by representatives of the ANO movement, which was the victor in the recent elections. The SPD has supported ANO's candidate, Radek Vondráček, to chair the lower house.

The SPD also wants Okamura to become a vice-chair of the lower house. The SPD chair has announced that Koten is prepared to become Security Committee chair.

"Go ahead and contact him, he will answer your questions," Okamura challenged journalists. The SPD chair also sharply objected to questions about whether Koten is connected with Russia or whether he shares links to disinformation media outlets.

News server Aktuálně.cz reported at the end of October that Koten previously shared a false alarm online about an alleged radiation link at a French nuclear power plant, allegations that were refuted by the State Office for Nuclear Security. He shared that particular fake news item from the Aeronet website, which is considered a source of disinformation and is monitored by the Czech Interior Ministry.

For his own promotional videos Koten has used footage from Russia Today television (RT), the operation of which is financed by the Russian Federation's budget with the direct suport of Vladimir Putin. Many states worldwide are attempting to restrict the impact of RT as a consequence.

According to Aktuálně.cz, Koten has been a member of groups supporting a referendum on the Czech Republic leaving the European Union (EU) and of groups labeling the religion of Islam a "deadly evil", and he has "liked" pages called "We Want Out of NATO and the EU - Russia Is Our Real Friend !!!" or "I Love the Ortel Band". The SPD nominee is, according to Okamura, a "decent" person.

"He is not associated with any security scandals or problems. There's not a scratch on him. We wanted it to be a balanced person who can manage to find consensus and does not have a bad past," Okamura said of Koten.

The SPD chair also said he would consider it acceptable if a representative of the Communists were elected to head the Mandate and Immunity Committee. "We do not have a problem with supporting that option," he said.

Okamura said he had not been contacted by the Movement of Mayors and Independents (STAN) about its proposal that its chair, Petr Gazdík, should head the Mandate and Immunity Committee. The Communist nominee has since been elected.

ČTK, ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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