The Anglo-American University Diplomatic Club in collaboration with RFE/RL hosted a panel discussion commemorating 50 years from the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia.
The panelists compared the aspects of the Kremlin propaganda both during the Cold War and modern time.
The evening of April 17th was quite an active one as a panel discussion commemorating 50 years from the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, was taking place. The event was given the following title:”Lessons Learned? Kremlin Propaganda during Cold War & Today”. It was organized by the Diplomatic Club of the Anglo-American University, in collaboration with RFE/RL. Because of the thematic of the topic, the choice of panelists was quite interesting and fitting. There were two speakers from the RFE/RL: Mr. Rim Gilfanov from Tatar-Bashkir service and Ms Jana Hokuvova from the media department. Their primary focus was on the historical role of the Radio Liberty during the Cold War, as well as modern goals. The panellist from our university was PhDr. Milada Polišenská. Many at the university will be familiar with her as an expert in Modern and Contemporary European History, as well as the author of several books and researches that deal with the Cold War thematic.
The panel discussion started at around 18:30, and was moderated by the new vice-president of the AAU Diplomatic Club, Nodar Pkhaladze. Altogether event lasted for more than an hour and a half. It was very interesting and thought-provoking. The panellists begun their speeches, by mentioning the invasion of Czechoslovakia, while stressing different elements, which played in favour of the Kremlin propaganda. Professor Polišenská was even kind enough to showcase a small presentation which showcased different propagandistic tools such as advertisements, printed money, sculptures and their symbolical meanings. Mr. Gilfanov, provided us the insight on people’s access to the RFE/RL broadcasts in different countries during the Cold War. He mentioned how much risky it was for people to not only work for the “Radio Free Europe”, but even to listen to it: how hard it was frowned upon and stigmatized by the communist society; what counter-measures such as radio signal jamming devices were used to prevent population from tuning into the necessary radio frequency. Naturally he did also mention how the “Radio Liberty” was fighting against both the Soviet censure and propaganda at the same time, followed by the explanation of challenges the organization has been facing after the collapse of USSR. He would also often pass the speech to Ms. Hokuvova, who at the same time emphasized the formation and the role of Czech media during the years of Soviet influence.
Once the first part of the event was over, the presenters engaged into an open discussion with the audience. The nature of discussion was more up-close and personal, unlike regular Q&A sessions, which allowed for a far more fruitful conversation to commence. As a result, it not only allowed the speakers to give more concrete answers on some specific issues, but also allowed to apply the characteristics of the Cold War disinformation into modern context, therefore drawing interesting parallels and conclusions. The questions mostly dealt with present challenges of Kremlin propaganda in Czech Republic, as well as on the current aspects of “fake news”. Needless to say, the discussion was so interesting for both the panellists and the audience that it carried over the time limit for several minutes.
At the end, both the audience and speakers were quite satisfied with the event. It was a great opportunity for the audience to hear about the elements of the historical and modern Kremlin propaganda coupled with vast personal experience from each speaker’s unique point of view. In summary, it was quite an interesting discussion, given also the fact that the subjects mentioned there are not often discussed at the university.
Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Hwang, Sarah Abu Saad, and Mariam Bakhturidze