However, the full recording shows that Pavel was talking about the Kremlin’s propaganda campaign at that point and describing how the Russian leader promotes a narrative of the West using Ukraine in order to justify his invasion. Pavel’s entire speech was critical of Russia.

The eight-second manipulated video went viral on the Telegram channel neCT24, where it was viewed by more than 7,700 users.

In April 2022, the Czech Hybrid Threats Centre, which is part of the interior ministry, identified the neCT24 Telegram channel as a successor to the Sputnik channel. Sputnik, along with fellow Russian state media outlet Russia Today, was blocked by the European Union shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine. 

In the edited clip, Pavel appears to say: “The West is manipulating Ukraine and inciting it to do the worst because it wants to use Ukraine as a tool in its own fight against Russia.” The Czech Radio logo and the words “Media and Ukraine” can be seen in the background.

The clip also appeared on Facebook, for example in this post from June 23, 2023, which was shared by nearly 100 users. It claims that “Petr Pavel finally came clean and admitted that the West was using Ukraine against Russia.”

Screenshot taken on Facebook on June 26, 2023

The video also went viral on Twitter, where it was viewed by more than 3,200 users. 

The shared clip bears the watermark of both neCT24 and the recently established website, which is just a reversal of the name of the neCT24 Telegram channel. 

Pavel supported Ukraine at the Prague conference

By searching for the keywords “Media and Ukraine” and “Petr Pavel”, AFP found that the president had recently appeared as a keynote speaker at a Prague conference called Media and Ukraine, organised by Czech Radio, on June 22, 2023.

In his opening speech, Pavel clearly showed support for Ukraine. He also spoke of the need to fight against disinformation, which he said he believed Russia had been using to target not only the West but also its own citizens. 

At the 3:48 minute mark of the original recording, Pavel said the following in his speech: “Through propaganda, Putin has instilled in the Russian people the identity of a victim. He has convinced the Russian people that they have reason to feel threatened and that they have every right to defend themselves against this threat. He lied that the West is manipulating Ukraine and inciting it to do the worst because it wanted to use Ukraine as a tool in its own struggle against Russia.”

In the edited clip, the words “He lied that…” are cut so that Pavel’s quote appears to start with the words “the West is manipulating”, thus creating a false impression of what he said.

It is therefore clear that the eight-second clip shared on social media has been edited to remove the fact that Pavel was referring to Putin’s anti-West propaganda messaging in this part of the speech. 

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, AFP has fact-checked many false claims related to this conflict. For a full list of our articles on the subject in Czech, click here, in English here.

Ladka Mortkowitz

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Edited by Anna Maria Jakubek

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