Nela Liskova can be described as a Pro-Russian xenophobic activist and a member of the self-proclaimed “National Self-Defense”. She claims that a so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) has established a consulate in the Czech Republic. This is nonsense.
Just recently, several pro-Russian propagandist Czech and Slovak web sites made “sensational news” about a DPR consulate. Based on their statements the Czech Republic would be honored to be the first European country to open a Donetsk separatists’ consulate office.
“National Self-Defense”, which Nela Liskova is a member of and which identifies her as “a jewel”, informs us about “an agreement on the international cooperation between the DPR and the Czech Republic” which was signed by Liskova in Donetsk. It also stated that the Czech Republic has become the first country with such a representative office despite “the teeth grinding of the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and its media supporters”.
According to Russian propaganda, the DPR representative office plans to develop relationships between the two countries, maintain economic cooperation, as well as support culture and education.
Nela Liskova kind of made a mockery of the Czech government and the EU.
The self-proclaimed DPR government has also announced about Nela Liskova being appointed as a DPR Honorary Consul to the Czech Republic.
This news was noticed by the Lidové noviny media and on July 9, 2016 it reported about a Donetsk Consulate working in Ostrava.
The Czech MFA commented on the situation: “The self-proclaimed DPR cannot have the accredited diplomatic missions in the Czech Republic as the Czech Republic does not acknowledge its existence and therefore the DPR cannot be considered as a subject of international law. Ms. Liskova does not represent the Czech Republic’s interests and cannot act on its behalf”.
Donetsk “Minister of Foreign Affairs” Natalia Nikonorova states that the Representative Office has been registered as a non-profit organization in the Czech Republic, which she believes can prove the fact that separatists are not terrorists, otherwise the Czech state authorities would take appropriate steps.
The East European Information Center (EEIC) position
The non-government organization EEIC monitors and analyzes Russian propaganda. Its specialists have identified that there is no such institution as a DPR Consulate in the Czech Republic. The truth is as follows: a “DPR Representative Center” has been registered as an association of private citizens. It is not registered by the people who left Ukraine but rather by Neli Liskova. The legal address is in Ostrava city, where according to the DPR and Liskova statements, “the headquarters of the DPR Consulate” is located. It is interesting that neither Liskova, nor the DPR, nor Russian media provide the address of “the Consulate”, they only mention Ostrava city. It looks like the above mentioned association and “the Consulate” share the same address.
So, one can conclude that “the DPR Representative Center” is not a diplomatic institution of the foreign entity but a non-profit organization created by a Czech citizen.
On July 6, 2016 the EEIC team member in Ostrava city looked for the DPR Representative Center. There is a pretty derelict building with grated windows covered by a window insulation film at that address. There are no plaques, coats of arms or flags, which could indicate it is a Consulate. There is a sign on the door that it belongs to a private company.
Based on the analysis of information from all the mentioned above sources, it is clear that the “DPR Consulate” should be considered as just another propaganda bubble. We see too many of them in the times of the hybrid information war.
The Czech MFA confirms that Nela Liskova cannot represent the Czech Republic interests; she also cannot serve as a DPR Honorary Consul as such status requires the Czech Republic’s approval because this title is official and it is governed by international agreements.
In essence, the story is as follows: Liskova arrived in Ukraine, into the territory temporarily controlled by the Russia-supported separatists. She performed some sort of a comedy act about opening “the DPR Consulate”. Meanwhile the NGO “DPR Representative Office” was registered in the Czech Republic. That is all. One may consider this as a success story (believing in propaganda as an efficient communication format). It was an act performed by Liskova and the DPR and now it would be necessary for another side to counteract. Meanwhile Liskova benefits from all of this.
What is next?
The first priority is to monitor the situation and see if Liskova starts acting as “a DPR Honorary Consul”. Even if the whole scenario is nonsense and nobody recognizes the DPR, such imitations of a diplomatic activity should be recognized as a violation of the law and could be punished. It is not clear if state authorities would monitor further developments but the public and EEIC would definitely be involved and would act appropriately if needed.
As it has been mentioned, the DPR used the whole story trying to prove its legitimacy and denying its terrorism nature. Here we face an issue of a hybrid war. In the Czech Republic, Liskova and the DPR have not violated any laws yet. There was nothing to prevent the registration of a new NGO. “The DPR Consulate” was registered the same way as any other strange NGO might have been registered. The only way to prevent it is to consider making certain changes to legislation to adapt to this new “hybrid” reality and close loopholes used by the Russian propaganda.
Another problem is the fact that the Czech Republic did not condemn the separatists movements and its self-declared entities. It is good that the Czech Republic does not recognize such “republics”. However, it would be much easier to counteract the propaganda disseminated by Liskova and MPs of the Czech Communist Party if the country recognizes these “republics” as terrorist organizations.
The state should be definitely more proactive in fighting the hybrid war.
It is important to understand that “the DPR Representative Office in the Czech Republic” is a fake, a virtual reality and nothing more. This hostile propaganda tries to justify Russian international policy and its aggression towards Ukraine. It might be helpful to see the picture of this notorious “consulate”.
This article is prepared together with the EEIC.
There are no links to any of the Russian propaganda sources in this material.
Author: Tomasz Peszynski
Source: Blog iDNES.cz July 11, 2016.
Translated by Oksana Panchuk
Edited by Sveta Kemblowski