June 14. 2024. 1:04

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Slovak majority lawmaker met Russian ambassador in parliament, entertains pro-Russian narrative

The Russian Ambassador to Slovakia Igor Bratchikov met secretly with controversial ruling party Smer lawmaker Tibor Gašpar in the Slovak parliament on Wednesday (15 May), to discuss the war in Ukraine and cyber security before dabbling in pro-Kremlin narrative.

The ambassador’s presence in the parliament building, which took place before the attempted assassination of Prime Minister Robert Fico at the same day, would have gone unnoticed had it not been pointed out by a lawmaker from the liberal opposition party SaS Tomáš Szalay who saw him on the premises.

When asked whether he called on Russia to leave Ukraine during the meeting, Gašpar replied that he had not.

He said that he reminded the Russian ambassador it was Russia who violated international law by launching the invasion in Ukraine, but “they also talked about the causes of the conflict”.

“This conflict also has its cause. The genocide of the Russian-speaking population in eastern Ukraine, a lack of option to use their language,” Gašpar told journalists after the meeting with the ambassador repeating the narrative used by Russian propagandists.

Gašpar is a former police chief facing corruption charges and suspected of being involved in organised crime. He is currently a chairman of Defence and Security Parliamentary Committee.

Opposition’s criticism

The meeting was also attended by other MPs, including Samuel Migaľ, a member of the ruling coalition’s Hlas party.

According to Migaľ, Gašpar spoke with Bratchikov about three topics – the anniversary of the end of World War II, the war in Ukraine, and possible future cooperation on cybersecurity.

“I have reminded the Russian ambassador of the clear position of our party Hlas that we know who is the initiator of this conflict, i.e., Russia, and who must defend himself,” Migaľ said.

He also said that he had conveyed to the ambassador the words of Hlas leader and future president Peter Pellegrini, that he was in favour of a peaceful solution to this conflict, which “will not come without both sides sitting down at the negotiating table and starting to sort things out”.

According to the leading opposition party Progressive Slovakia (PS), the Slovak government has once again moved Slovakia a little closer to non-democratic countries.

“We have known for a long time that people in Smer are indifferent to Slovak interests and human lives in Ukraine. But they could at least care about respecting the National Council of the Slovak Republic,” PS MP and former Slovak ambassador to NATO Tomáš Valášek said yesterday.

“By fraternising with Vladimir Putin, they are jeopardising whatever respect we still have among our partners abroad,” Valášek stressed.

Cancelled meeting last week

Bratchikov was supposed to meet Gašpar in parliament last week (7 May) but opposition parties PS and SaS protested against the meeting and stood in front of the room where it was to take place, holding banners in support of Ukraine.

One of them read “Russia is a terrorist state”.

Gašpar eventually cancelled the meeting that day.

Controversies related to Russia in Slovakia have been emerging frequently since the election of the government of Robert Fico in October 2023.

For example, the meeting between Foreign Minister Juraj Blanár (Smer) and Sergei Lavrov in March caused international outrage.

In April, the Deputy Speaker in Parliament Ľuboš Blaha (Smer), gave an interview to Russian state television RT during which he spread pro-Kremlin propaganda.

Read more with Euractiv

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