Slovakia summons Russian embassy official over pre-election comments

(Reuters) – Slovakia’ Foreign Ministry said it had summoned a Russian embassy representative on Monday to protest over statements made by the head of Russia’s SVR foreign intelligence service, Sergei Naryshkin.

It said the comments, which it said were false, came on the eve of a Slovak parliamentary election on Saturday when a moratorium on information that may benefit or harm candidates was in place.

“The department of diplomacy strongly protests against the false statement of Russian intelligence which cast doubt on the integrity of the free and democratic election in Slovakia,” the ministry said.

“We consider such deliberately spread disinformation to be unacceptable interference by the Russian Federation in the election process.”

It called on Russia to cease all disinformation activities aimed at Slovakia.

The SMER-SSD party of leftist former prime minister Robert Fico, who has pledged to end Slovak military support for Ukraine and opposes sanctions on Russia, won most votes in Saturday’s election. A caretaker technocrat has led Slovakia since May.

Fico received a mandate from President Zuzana Caputova on Monday to begin negotiations on forming a coalition government. His most likely partners are the moderate-left HLAS party, which analysts say would tame any policy change, and a small party of pro-Russian nationalists.

(Reporting by Jan Lopatka and Jason Hovet in Prague; Editing by Gareth Jones; Editing by Gareth Jones)