Illustrative photo – Ukrainian tank on the front line near Bakhmut, March 1, 2023.
Prague – In the year since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the number of people in the Czech Republic who perceive the Czech Republic as part of the information war led by Russia has decreased from 52 to 37 percent. On the contrary, according to the survey, the share of Czechs who consider the information war just an excuse for Western governments to restrict freedom of speech and inconvenient media has increased from 15 to 24 percent. The number of people who do not have an opinion on the matter also increased from 19 to 30 percent. The results of surveys by the Ipsos agency in cooperation with the Central European research consortium Central European Digital Media Observatory (CEDMO) are available to ČTK.
The Russian army invaded Ukraine last year on February 24, the first survey by Ipsos was conducted in April. Others followed in May, June and July, so far the last one is from March this year. “While in the spring of last year, Czech society was more convinced that we are part of an information war by Russia, more than a year after the start of the war in Ukraine, the percentage of those who have this opinion has dropped significantly. This may be partly due to a certain social fatigue from the topic of the conflict, but effective propaganda can also play a role, the goal of which is often to cause information chaos. That is why at the moment we have 30 percent of citizens who do not know what to think about this topic,” said Michal Kormaňák from the Ipsos agency.
In the previous survey last July, 45 percent were still convinced of the Czech Republic as part of the information war led by Russia. In July, 19 percent of respondents considered the information war to be a pretext for restricting freedom of speech. A quarter of people had no opinion on the matter in July.
Ipsos found the biggest change of opinion against the previous survey among people aged 70 and over. In July, 49 percent of them saw the Czech Republic as part of the information war led by Russia, this year in March 24 percent. People with higher education continue to hold this opinion the most, namely 55 percent of them. “Political preferences also play a role. While last year 31 percent of non-parliamentary opposition voters considered the information war only an excuse to limit freedom of speech and the media, today it is almost 45 percent of them. We see a similar trend among parliamentary opposition voters, where this opinion less than a year ago, it held 29 percent, while now this figure has risen to 37 percent of voters,” the authors of the survey said. The opinion of the voters of the governing parties remains similar over time, two-thirds of them consider the information war led by Russia to be a reality.
In Slovakia, where the survey was also conducted, the situation is more stable. The share of people who perceive Slovakia as part of the information war led by Russia has not changed significantly since last April, in March this year it was 36 percent. The number of those who take the information war only as an excuse to limit freedom of speech has not changed too much either, falling from 29 percent last April to 26 percent this March. People without an opinion on the matter in Slovakia increased from 15 to 27 percent.
Between March 9 and 13, 1,038 people over the age of 18 took part in the survey in the Czech Republic. In Slovakia, 1017 respondents responded between March 7 and 9.