Battling Disinformation: Fact-Checking Challenges in Central and Eastern Europe

Disinformation in Central and Eastern Europe is a major threat to democratic security in Central and Eastern Europe. Disinformation campaigns are exploiting vulnerabilities across the region and seek to disrupt public opinion on key issues such as the war in Ukraine and the upcoming EU elections. Fact-checking organisations are on the frontline with disinformation every day, but they also face a lot of challenges. Many European fact-checking outlets are attached to established news organisations. Some of them collaborate with social media platforms, others work independently, while facing political pressure. Fact-checking organisations have the mission to promote truth in public discourse. Yet, fact-checkers are often under attack from critics and politicians who disagree with them. 

What counts as reliable data? Who has the authority to assess public truth and how to balance accuracy in political narratives with other democratic ideas such as openness and pluralism?

Blanka Zöldi is a journalist with over ten years of experience. She is the editor-in-chief of Lakmusz, the first dedicated fact-checking website in Hungary, launched in January 2022. Lakmusz is part of Hungary’s anti-disinformation hub (LAKMUSZ-HDMO, co-financed by the European Union). Collaborating closely with the popular news website, Lakmusz has reached over 3 million readers in its first two years of operations, and has become a verified member of IFCN and EFCSN. Before launching Lakmusz, Blanka worked as a political and business reporter for daily news sites and was an investigative reporter for Direkt36, a nonprofit investigative journalism center. She mainly covered political corruption and misuse of power. Blanka participated in various international collaborations of ICIJ and OCCRP.

Kristina Hristova is the project manager of and president of the Media Literacy Coalition. Kristina was a founder and president of the Association of European Journalists – Bulgaria from November 2010 until September 2016. For many years she was leading the website of the daily Dnevnik, dedicated to European issues – Europe.Dnevnik. For her work as a journalist on European matters, she has been awarded three times by the Representation of the European Commission in Bulgaria with the Robert Schumann Award, in the category of internet media. 


Asya Metodieva follows political and media developments in Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans. She is currently involved in a project on digital sovereignty in Europe at the Institute of International Relations in Prague, where she works as a researcher. Additionally, she is a visiting fellow with the Engaging Central Europe program of The German Marshall Fund of the United States. Asya earned her PhD from Central European University for her research on the radicalization and mobilization of radical and extremist movements. Her book on foreign Islamist fighters from the Balkans was published by Routledge in 2023. Previously, she was a fellow with Visegrád Insight (2020), Re-Think CEE (2019), and LSE Ideas (2018). She is currently engaged at the Thomson Foundation as a Media Support Coordinator.