Czech spy agency says pro-Kremlin media ring targets European Parliament elections in several states

Czech spy agency says pro-Kremlin media ring targets European Parliament elections in several states
Czech security agency BIS detailed the Voice of Europe media platform's support for selected politicians as the European Parliament elections approach. / bne IntelliNews
By Albin Sybera in Prague April 2, 2024

A number of mostly far-right politicians across the EU member states have been promoted on the pro-Kremlin Voice of Europe media platform ahead of the European Parliament elections, according to documents from the Czech security service BIS seen by DennikN and other Czech publications.

Last week, the Czech authorities added Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ally and Ukrainian-Russian oligarch, Viktor Medvedchuk, and his associate, Artyom Marchevskiy, to its national sanctions list for their activities linked to the Prague-based Voice of Europe.  

“As per the instructions of Viktor Volodymyrovich Medvedchuk, [Artyom Marchevskiy] is practically running Voice of Europe in a number of EU member states, secures financing of cooperation with journalists and covet financial support of chosen individuals among candidates to the European Parliament,” state the Czech security service documents quoted by daily DennikN.  

Some of the politicians promoted in the scheme include Belgian separatist Filip Dewinter, European Parliament candidates from the German far-right party Alternative fur Deutschland Petr Bystron and Maximilian Krah, Dutch Thierry Baudet, Czech ex-cabinet members Cyril Svoboda and Jiri Paroubek, and Slovak legislator Erik Kalinak from Prime Minister Robert Fico’s ruling leftist populist Smer party.

The Voice of Europe platform is registered in Prague, and its official CEO is Warsaw resident Jacek January Jakubczyk. According to BIS, however, Marchevskiy is the de facto head of the platform.

“Activities of the company were run by Artyom Marchevskiy; it was he who dealt with content, represented the company and communicated with European politicians,” a source from the Czech Office of the Government was quoted as saying by DennikN.

DennikN and other Czech media wrote that BIS also documented specific politicians who accepted cash as part of the scheme but did not release any names. Czech media later reported that Bystron, an AfD politician of Czech origin, is one of the politicians who accepted cash payments in Prague.

Speaking to the Czech online news outlet, Bystron said: “I was in Czechia at a conference, but the secret service accusation is nonsense. I only spoke to the journalists from this website” Voice of Europe.

Besides Paroubek, another former Czech prime minister, Vaclav Klaus, who is now a backer of the Czech anti-EU party SPD, has been promoted by Voice of Europe. Klaus and Bystron have reportedly been in regular contact in the past.

Director at the Vienna-based Centre for Democratic Integrity, Anton Shekhovtsov, wrote on his LinkedIn social media profile that the list of European politicians promoted at Voice of Europe since August 2023 also includes former Slovenian prime minister Janez Jansa, President of Bosnia’s Republika Srpska’s Milorad Dodik, Italians Francesca Donato and Matteo Gazzini, French Patricia Chagnon, Herve Juvin and Thierry Mariani, Croatian Ladislav Ilcic and Slovaks Jan Carnogursky and Miroslav Radacovsky.