In this programme, the last in the current series looking at Czech history through the archives, we get a flavour of the Cold War. The archives throw up some curious stories: a man in love with a drill, a Czechoslovak cosmonaut celebrated in song, a campaign against noisy rockers with long hair, and some Cold War dramas – tales of defectors and spies. And we end with the strange, sad story of the Red Elvis. But first to the glowing dawn of the new regime in 1948.
The integration of Western Balkan countries into the European Union is in
the economic and security interest of the EU, Hungarian Foreign Minister
Peter Szijjarto told journalists in Prague after talks with his Czech,
Polish and Slovak counterparts on Monday. Szijjarto said the accession
talks with these countries had seen little progress in the last six months,
which he considered to be one of the biggest mistakes of the European
Commission of Jean-Claude Juncker.
Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček, who hosted the Visegrad meeting of foreign ministers, likewise expressed support for faster negotiations with the Balkan states. Petříček said he hoped that accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia would be launched next year.
This week’s release of the Czech Security Information Service’s (BIS) annual report was widely covered by Czech media and even some foreign outlets. What stood out was the considerable amount of detail that the public version contained on Russian and Chinese spying operations in the country last year. So what are these two states up to? And what are their reasons?
The spreading of disinformation by pro-Russian activists was the most
serious threat to the constitutionality of the Czech Republic last year,
the country’s BIS counterintelligence service says in an annual report
issued on Tuesday.
In recent years such players have been agitating in an increasingly intensive and systematic way against the political structure in the Czech Republic and the country’s membership of the EU and NATO, the report states.
The report says those circulating pro-Moscow disinformation tend to be from various nationalist and populist movements and include parties and individuals. Some of them were previously active in the domestic anti-immigrant movement.
BIS also said that China was intensifying its espionage activities in the Czech Republic, with all of it main intelligence services in operation here in 2018.
China has targeted its activities at the academic community, the security forces and the state administration and has sought to recruit Czechs as agents, the report says.
Last year the Czech authorities broke up a Russian spy network operating in the country, the head of the BIS counter-intelligence service, Michal Koudelka, told MPs on Monday. The FSB spy ring – financed directly by Moscow and the Russian Embassy – was uncovered by BIS and the Czech Republic’s national organised crime unit. I discussed the revelation with former Czech Military Intelligence chief Andor Šándor.
In July, a paper was published by Dr. Christopher Balding from the Fulbright University in Vietnam, which looked into the link between Huawei Technologies' employees and the Chinese intelligence and military establishment by analysing a unique dataset of CVs from unsecured Chinese databases and websites run by recruitment platforms leaked last year. In an interview with Czech Radio published on Wednesday, he said that Huawei employees appear to act on behalf of the Chinese interior ministry and army in their work for Huawei.
The Czech branch of the Chinese company Huawei is suspected of collecting sensitive data on officials and businessmen through its employees. This material is allegedly gathered during business meetings and subsequently entered into a central database to which the company’s headquarters in China have access. Czech Radio’s investigative team at Radiožurnál broke the story, citing former Huawei employees and Czech intelligence sources.
Harold Wilson Fernyhough an aide to Prime Minister Harold Wilson who was
reported to have spied for Czechoslovakia in the 1950’s and 1960s, was
very likely unaware that he was not associating with diplomats, but
communist secret police handlers, according to Czech archivist Svetlana
Ptáčníková, who heads the Security Services Archive, said that according to the secret police files Fernyhough shared information willingly, but without knowledge of who he was dealing with. The archivist noted that secret police handlers were often placed in diplomatic posts in order to acquire information.
According to the files Fernyhough never revealed anything confidential, only sharing information that was either common knowledge or was later made public.
Reports that Harold Wilson Fernyhough had spied for the Czechoslovak communist secret police appeared in the British press at the weekend.
Labour MP Geoffrey Robinson has denied claims that he was a Cold War spy
who passed confidential government files to Communist Czechoslovakia in the
The Mail on Sunday reported that there is extensive evidence of this cooperation in files compiled by the stb communist secret service and now administered by the Czech Republic's state security archives.
The files allege scores of meetings with a Czech "handler" between 1966 and 1969. They centre on information about Britain's nuclear deterrent, including its Polaris missile programme, and details about NATO.
Last year the Labour Party denied claims that Jeremy Corbyn had either been a collaborator or an agent of the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia in the 1980s.
Mobile operators will be given time until 2024 to launch their 5G networks
after a frequency auction takes place, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said on
Thursday at an international conference in Prague, which is dedicated to
exploring the security, technical and economic aspects of switching to 5G.
Mr. Babiš said he expects the switch to the advanced wireless system to be even more revolutionary than the onset of mobile phones, stimulating economic growth, innovation and overall prosperity. However, he also stressed the extraordinary importance of ensuring the new network system’s security.
In a video message sent to the conference, European Commissioner for Security Julian King urged the importance of EU member states approaching 5G network security in a co-operative way, establishing a set of security standards.