“Sputnik V” Vaccine as a Propaganda Tool in Eastern European Countries

“The actual remedy or the hybrid war tool” – this question has arisen within the country of Slovakia, where the Prime Minister and head diplomacy have different opinions regarding purchasing the Russian Sputnik V vaccine.

Since the vaccine against COVID-19 was developed, the demand for it has grown quite rapidly. However, the demand for the Russian-developed vaccine – Sputnik V is not high in Eastern European countries, except a couple of countries.

Despite the fact that many people try to separate the current need for a vaccine with geopolitics and the propaganda that can be used, we cannot say the same about Russia and its politics.

Although Russia also has a limited number of Sputnik V vaccines, several Eastern European countries receive large numbers of the vaccine. This gives the impression that Russia, itself does not completely trust the Sputnik V vaccine but still wants to have its influence on other countries, mostly Eastern Europe, by selling it to them at a high price.

One of the countries that have purchased this vaccine is Slovakia. The country’s prime minister bought almost 2 million doses of vaccine. However, this decision was not considered for the government to reach a consensus.

Therefore, the Prime Minister Igor Matovič was forced to resign from his post. He was replaced by Eduard Heger. Many thought that attitudes towards the introduction of the Russian vaccine would change, but it didn’t go as planned. Eduard Heger said that the Sputnik V vaccine is the only way to fight this pandemic in Slovakia. One of the reasons that he states involves the argument about Slovak people. “A high number of people wouldn’t get vaccinated with anything else, just Sputnik,” Mr Hegersaid.

The statement of the new prime minister of Slovakia is debatable since the Slovak drug regulator concluded that there was a difference in the doses of the Russian vaccine. Doses were specifically supplied to Slovakia and doses were supplied to the European Medicines Agency. This argument was supported by the Brazilian drug regulator, which found numerous irregularities in this vaccine and refused to import it.

Similar doubts about the effectiveness of the Russian vaccine have led to tense relations between Russia and the countries where these findings of Sputnik V are made. Therefore, the conclusion of the Slovak drug regulator was replaced in early May by the conclusion of the Slovak Ministry of Health that the Russian vaccine poses no threat and it is completely safe to use. Consequently, its purchase will no longer be delayed.

The situation is similar in the Czech Republic. However, not a government official supporting the Russian vaccine has been fired, but an opponent of the vaccine.

In the Czech Republic, neither the Minister of Health nor the Minister of Foreign Affairs agreed to receive the Sputnik V vaccine. In addition, the Czech drug regulator has not proven the effectiveness of this vaccine.

Against the background of these findings, the President did not try to start the search for another vaccine, on the contrary, he also demanded the dismissal of the director of the Czech Drug Regulatory, which was not finally fulfilled.

The reason for all this is obvious that there are only political intentions. The Czech president is a close ally of Russia and its president, and basically, every step is taken in the interests of Russia.

The Czech Republic’s involvement in the propaganda movement for the Russian vaccineappeared to be quite simple, which seems to be well based on the decisions that have been made in the country since the introduction of the vaccine. Although the Czech Republic is a EU member state, it still refused to import the additional 70,000 vaccines offered by the EU. If the Czech Republic had not depended on Russia’s political interests, it would not have rejected the offer, as there is a crisis over the number of vaccines in the country.

Based on the decisions of Slovakia, we can also assume a strong threat of Russian propaganda in the country, because a change of government will not change the situation.

Poland is a country in Eastern Europe where the propaganda methods of the Russian vaccine have not proved effective. In Poland, the character of Russian policy, which exists both inside and outside the government, is strongly felt. There are also suspicions in Poland that this vaccine is part of Russian propaganda and that the priority of the vaccine may not necessarily be positive, since its effectiveness is not yet proven.

Ultimately, understanding the main purpose of the Russian vaccine is not difficult, given the small details that accompany the vaccine. First of all, it is no coincidence that the name of thevaccine is similar to the first satellite that USSR launched into space in 1957. A similar achievement puts Russia at the forefront of the world, and by choosing this name, it seeks to return to that exact position, if not on the world stage, at least with its allies in Eastern Europe.

Elene Dvalishvili

Article was prepared within the framework of Jan Karski Program For Young Georgian Leaders 2021 / Capacity-Building for the Better Resistance to the Russian Propaganda 

The opinions and conclusions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Tbilisi or The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland.

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