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PRAGUE, Nov 23 — The Czech Republic’s intelligence agency said today that Russian spying activities on its territory had been hit by coronavirus restrictions curbing movement in 2020.

In its annual report, the Security Information Service (BIS) said the restrictions had reduced “opportunities for intelligence exchanges in the traditional areas of interest, such as politics, the academic sphere or trade”.

But it also reported an increase in Russian interest in contacting Czech pro-Russian and anti-system entities and building contacts.

“Russia aims to use the Czech territory to gain access to Czech nationals but also to build contacts with foreign nationals,” said the BIS, adding that Russia had also continued cyber attacks on Czech targets. 

It added that China also remained a “complex growing intelligence threat” with its spies using diplomatic and journalistic cover.

“Chinese intelligence activities were most intensive in the area of politics and scientific and technical intelligence,” according to the report.

The intelligence service also said aversion to Covid-19 restrictions had given rise to a “Covid-denial movement” in the Czech Republic questioning measures taken by the government and the seriousness of the disease itself.

“It connected dissatisfied citizens with representatives of the Czech disinformation scene,” the BIS said.

But “even though disinformation and conspiracy theories affected a wider population than usual, the Covid-denial movement was not successful in mobilising the general public”, it added. — AFP

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