Text messages citing Czech presidential candidate Petr Pavel and calling on recipients to come to the nearest Czech army post to get arms for mobilisation in Ukraine appeared on Wednesday. Czech police are now asking recipients to contact the authorities.
“Hello, this is General Pavel. With this message, I would like to thank you for your vote in the presidential election campaign. Please come to the nearest Czech army station where you will be equipped with necessary weapons for mobilisation in Ukraine,” reads the text message. It was first shared online by Mayor of Tetin town Matej Hlavaty, who is part of the Pavel campaign team.
Pavel has been in a fierce campaign with the opposition leader and populist billionaire Andrej Babis over the presidential office which is culminating at the runoff vote on January 27-28. Babis has been accusing his opponent, a former army chief of staff and chairman of the Nato Military Committee, of being a warmonger and has been styling himself a peacemaker seeking the end of the war in Ukraine.
“I am the only one who seeks peace,” Babis’ profile posted on Wednesday in block letters and added that “I don’t want the war to spread. I am not a general. I am a diplomat”. There is a message appearing on Babis’ profile every hour calling on people to vote for him so that an allegedly pro-government candidate Pavel does not come into the office.
Babis' campaign has also featured posters along the country’s motorways that read “I won’t drag Czechia into a war. I am a diplomat. Not a soldier. Babis for president”.
The Czech government has been a vocal supporter of Ukraine and the country of 10.5mn has provided shelter to about 400,000 Ukrainians fleeing the Russian aggression since last February. In the autumn a series of demonstrations organised by far-right and pro-Russian activists attracted several tens of thousands by calling for peace and an end to the energy crisis.
Pavel said he is not surprised that anonymous text messages are amplifying lies used in the Babis campaign. “This is the world of Andrej Babis behind which all pro-Russian and conspiratorial forces have rallied,” Pavel told media.