Meet Slovakia’s Most Popular Telegrammer – A Far-Right Conspiracist Now Wanted by Law Enforcement
On a spring day in the town of Vrútky, nestled near the mountains of northern Slovakia, a man barged into an elementary school with a knife. The 22-year old, reportedly a former student who struggled with mental health issues, stabbed children and staff. The attack left five people wounded and the school’s deputy principal dead.
The murder on June 11, 2020, shocked Slovakia. It also gave notorious far-right personalities a chance to whip up a frenzy. One Slovak man who goes by the name ‘Danny Kollár’ online, shared his thoughts in an Instagram video. The killer, Kollár claimed, was of Roma ethnicity, a marginalised minority group long a target of prejudice in Slovakia.
It was all part of a conspiracy perpetrated by Slovakia’s establishment, he said, to cover up the apparent truth — and discriminate against people like him. “It doesn’t matter,” declared Kollár, “because a white man, a nationalist, a patriot today will never have any rights in a country that’s ruled by Jews and Zion.”
A fringe far-right website repeated Kollár’s claim about the killer’s alleged Roma ethnicity — despite journalists and Slovak police reporting that the claim was false — and from there it was amplified across Slovak-language social media.
Two years later Danny Kollár, whose legal name has long been reported as being Daniel Bombic, continues to spread disinformation to an ever-increasing number of followers. Since his racist rant went viral, Kollár has shifted most of his activities to messaging service Telegram. There, he operates a popular public channel with more than 50,000 subscribers as of August 2022, as well as an affiliated public chat group with almost 10,000 members.
According to experts interviewed by Bellingcat, Kollár’s channel has spread damaging and dangerous far-right disinformation, encouraged conspiracies about Covid-19 in a country where vaccination rates are among the lowest in Europe and doxxed prominent and lesser known individuals who have spoken out against him. He has also garnered the support of some prominent right-wing politicians in Slovakia, while his Telegram channel has become the most popular Slovak-language account on the platform.
Last month, Slovak police released a statement announcing that Bombic is wanted for avoiding criminal proceedings and that the country’s Specialised Criminal Court had issued an arrest warrant for the 40-year-old who is reported to have been living in the UK for more than a decade. An official spokesperson from Slovakia’s national police force, under the country’s Ministry of Interior, told Bellingcat by email that Bombic was being sought for “demonstrably evading prosecution”, and that a European Arrest Warrant as well as an arrest warrant under the European Union-United Kingdom post-Brexit agreement had also been issued given Bombic’s residence in the UK. The spokesperson further told Bellingcat that Bombic was being sought by Slovakia’s National Crime Agenecy (NAKA) for charges “mainly in connection with extremism.”
That Kollár and Bombic were one and the same had been previously supposed by Slovak media, citing a 2017 photo reportedly released by UK police. Bellingcat was able to match a more recent Slovak police photo of Bombic to images shared by Kollár — who also temporarily replaced his Telegram profile picture with the Slovak police mugshot. “I don’t really care what happens to me,” he reportedly told his followers in a video, bragging that his apparent mission was accomplished and that he had “exposed the minions of Zion.”
Some of Kollár’s defenders have included far-right leader Milan Uhrík and former politician Robert Kaliňák, who called his arrest warrant a “scandal” in a video Kollár reposted on his own channel. Kaliňák, a three-time interior minister who resigned in 2018 is currently facing a number of criminal charges alongside former Prime Minister Robert Fico.
Bombic/Kollár: Known to the Law
The latest police charges are not the first time that law enforcement have shown an interest in ‘Danny Kollár’. Online records of one such case helped confirm his legal name as ‘Daniel Bombic’.
In a September 2017 post on a Facebook page for a community group in Edgware, London, Bombic was pictured and noted as being wanted for assault. The same information can be found on Times Series, a network of local news sites focusing on North London, from September 2017.
Publicly available facial recognition tool AWS Rekognition gave an extremely strong match between the picture of Bombic on the Edgware Facebook page and a picture of Kollár posted on his Telegram channel. However, a facial recognition tool alone is not sufficient to prove conclusively that two individuals are indeed the same person.
A comparison of Kollár’s chest tattoo, taken from his Telegram channel, and the visible section of the chest tattoo in the Edgware Facebook photographs furthers the likelihood that they are the same person. A distinctive marking or scar, which stretches across his brow before dipping down towards his left eye, is also visible in each picture.
By 2017, Bombic had apparently spent years living in London; in an interview in a 2011 article from a Slovak website, Bombic claimed he was attacked and robbed by a gang of black youths in the city. The same article also stated that Bombic had lived in the UK since 2004.
What’s more, Kollár’s channels also temporarily adopted as his profile picture the mugshot of Bombic that was recently shared by Slovak police. This Slovak police image is also an extremely strong match with images of Kollár
From “Covid Doesn’t Exist” to “Covid is White Genocide”
Kollár’s is the most popular Slovak-language channel on Telegram. It is also popular in the neighbouring Czech Republic, a country of almost 11 million people. Czech speakers can read Kollár’s Slovak-language channel with little difficulty given the similarities between the two languages. Bellingcat has archived Kollár’s channel and the public chat group in their entirety.
Kollár serves up a dangerous cocktail of disinformation to his tens of thousands of followers on a daily basis. He mixes crude anti-vax propaganda that includes the most extreme conspiracy theories about Covid-19 along with a hefty dose of explicit far-right messages, including the antisemitic and widely debunked ‘Great Replacement’ conspiracy theory. He tops these off with doxxing and death threats against his perceived enemies, whether liberal journalists or senior health officials involved in Covid-19 vaccination efforts.
The pandemic appears to have boosted Kollár’s online presence. Slovakia is burdened with one of the lowest Covid-19 vaccination rates in the European Union. As this author has reported, the country has had a longstanding problem combating disinformation and propaganda from fringe far-right actors since well before the pandemic. Kollár may be on the furthest fringes of Slovak politics and society, but local experts told Bellingcat that they’re increasingly concerned about his influence, and the influence of others like him in the country of five million people.
Once most active on Facebook and Instagram, Kollár moved most of his activities to Telegram in late 2021, taking advantage of the platform’s lax content moderation policies. Kollár also maintains a YouTube channel, one that YouTube reportedly told Slovak journalists in April 2022 doesn’t violate the website’s policies. As of August 2022, Kollár’s videos had been viewed more than two million times.
Compared to countries like Ukraine, where Telegram is a mainstream platform used across the political spectrum, Telegram is generally used by more fringe actors in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. As a result, channels such as Kollár’s are competing against a much smaller base of far-right actors.
Still, Telegram has provided Kollár with a platform for growth that he may not have been able to find elsewhere. He created his channel in January 2021 and by October it had fewer than 1,700 subscribers. But a month later, Kollár’s subscriber count more than quadrupled to 8,000. By the start of this year, the channel had attracted more than 16,000 subscribers, swelling to 50,000 by August 2022.
This coincided with a period of rapid spread of Covid-19 in Central and Eastern Europe.
Kollár has been more than happy to oblige conspiracy theorists, discouraging vaccination while encouraging his audience to believe some of the most outlandish and discredited theories about the pandemic. On October 12, 2021, Kollár told his readers that Covid-19 “never existed.”
Later that month, Kollár wrote that Covid-19 was “a global Zionist fraud”. He repeated this statement to his then 7,500 subscribers — a count that had more than doubled in just over two weeks — adding that Covid-19 vaccines were a form of “genetic treatment”.
Over the following months, Kollár’s channel posted more conspiracy-laden claims about Covid-19 and vaccines. In December, he said the Omicron variant was “fake business of the pharma-mafia and Zionists” and that vaccines were a “poison” designed to “reduce immunity”. By February 2022, Kollár was claiming to his 24,000 subscribers that Anthony Fauci, a key figure in the US Covid-19 response, created not just the coronavirus but also HIV.
More recently, Kollár has promoted staunchly pro-Russian views. This March, in a post accompanied by a photo of himself in a Russian flag t-shirt, Kollár used homophobic slurs to describe Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, also calling him a “rat”, and praised Russian president Vladimir Putin as a “solid guy.” Kollár’s posts also evoke tropes commonly found in Masonic, anti-Vatican and QAnon conspiracy theories — from sinister references to the World Economic Forum to alleged global paedophile networks.
The pandemic, Kollár has said, is a plan designed to kill off white Europeans, a claim that unites the fringe beliefs of Covid-19 conspiracists and far-right extremists.
Kollár’s Covid-19 conspiracising points to a far-right, antisemitic worldview drawing on the ‘Great Replacement’ conspiracy theory – a term he has used and which falsely posits that there is an effort to replace white populations in white majority countries.
On December 9, 2021, Kollár alluded to claims that women could become infertile from Covid-19 vaccines, a widely debunked claim, explicitly calling the vaccination drive “white genocide”.
The ‘Great Replacement’ conspiracy appears to animate Kollár’s responses to other developments beyond Covid-19. Kollár referred to refugees of African origin who were fleeing Ukraine for Slovakia as part of a plot to “replace” Slovaks with non-white migrants. “This is exactly what the Zionists are about,” he wrote.
Kollár has never hidden these views from his new followers — he used a hashtag translating as “stop white genocide” in post last July, months before his channel began to skyrocket in popularity.
In December last year, he told his subscribers that they could find “the answers to all [their] questions” in a book: a notorious antisemitic fabrication known as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Far-Right Roots and “Master Doxxer DK”
Slovakia’s most popular Telegram personality wasn’t radicalised overnight.
Kollár has been a familiar face on Slovakia’s far-right scene for several years, despite reportedly living in the UK for more than a decade. His social media posts, documented over several years by journalists from Slovak daily newspaper Denník N, provide an insight into the far-right milieu from which he emerged.
In a May 2018 Facebook post, Kollár posted about attending a concert by Slovak band Krátký Proces in Kyiv, Ukraine, the previous month. The band’s lead singer ran for neo-Nazi politician Marian Kotleba’s ĽSNS party in Slovakia’s 2016 elections and was arrested in 2020 for disseminating extremist materials. In the post, Kollár also attacked his targets: “Islam, multi-kulti, Semites, feminism, gender equality and other similar bullshit.”
On another occasion, Kollár acknowledged that he performed a duet on stage with the band.
Kollár has also used his channel to harass and threaten his targets. He has signed off some posts as “Master Doxxer DK” — in cases where he has posted contact information of people who criticise or disagree with him, including detailed maps showing the locations of private residences. In 2021, according to Slovak news portal Zive, Kollár used his channel to doxx police officers involved in arresting an anti-vax protester, as well as healthcare workers involved in vaccination efforts.
As with other far-right Telegram channels investigated by Bellingcat, the end result of Kollár’s sharing of private contact information is often a torrent of offline harassment and abuse. In December 2021, Kollár posted the telephone number of a medical official who has been one of the most prominent faces of Slovakia’s Covid-19 vaccination campaign. Subsequently, that official reportedly received hundreds of abusive phone calls, including death threats — actions which reportedly drew the attention of Slovak police.
But in February 2022, it was the police that drew Kollár’s attention, when he doxxed the administrator of the Slovak national police’s Facebook page. On an uploaded PDF document, Kollár posted photos of the administrator of the channel, his phone number, home address, photos of his car, licence plate and front door.
“It’s up to you, as long as we suffer their terror,” Kollár told his followers, ending his post with a skull-and-crossbones emoji.
Kollár has used the same skull-and-crossbones emoji in other posts to people he has targeted online. On April 3, he published a photo of one of his critics with the caption “You’re next” alongside the emoji. Kollár had published a similar message about a different critic weeks before.
When asked about this by Bellingcat, Kollár said in an emailed response that there was nothing threatening about this type of message or the use of this emoji in this way: “The skull-and-crossbone emoji often symbolises an end of an anonymous attacks on political opponents, so from that point on – his identity would be exposed in an legal and legitimate way – hence the wording ‘you’re next’”.
To date, there have been no known incidents of physical violence recorded against those targeted by Kollár. But some of his critics worry that that could change.
Experts interviewed by Bellingcat felt that the growth and scale of Kollár’s Telegram followers may be less important than what his activities reflect about evolving far-right tactics online.
Arpád Soltész is a Slovak journalist and former director of the Jan Kuciák Investigative Centre, founded in 2018 in honour of the murdered reporter. In comments to Bellingcat, he noted that although Meta has started to remove their profiles — including the profile of far-right website Kulturblog, which Kollár promotes and in whose videos he has appeared “— Facebook is still the main platform for Slovakia’s extremists. “Telegram is rather marginal in Slovakia. The Neo-Nazi core is there… they think it’s a safe space, as it’s Russian”, he explains. “I suppose he started to use Telegram to coordinate action”.
Ján Benčík, a blogger covering Slovakia’s far-right who now sits in parliament, said: “His [Kollár’s] activities have definitely helped to increase the number of members of the anti-vaxx scene and because of the aggressive tone, also to radicalise them.” Benčík, a member of the For the People party, currently part of the ruling coalition government, told Bellingcat that he has personally been the target of ‘doxxing’ and hate speech from Kollár’s channel.
Benčík also said that even when Kollár did not explicitly threaten his targets, spreading disinformation about them was no less concerning because it created lasting humiliation and could prompt harassment by third parties.
“He remains unpunished, which can also affect other people who may be inspired by him”, Benčík warned.
In an email response to written questions from Bellingcat, Kollár said he did not know why or for what he was being charged, and claimed he was currently in the United Kingdom. He further stated that he had no knowledge that Slovakian police were seeking his arrest and refused to confirm that his legal name was Daniel Bombic. Despite having bragged repeatedly about doxxing his perceived enemies, Kollár claimed to Bellingcat that “I have not shared personal information of my critics.”
Kollár also denied inciting violence. “I have always been strongly against offensive violence, or inciting violence,” Kollár told Bellingcat, claiming that these were characteristics “of Antifa, or Ultra-Zionist hate groups, not myself. Never have I openly or privately called…on [the] use of violence.”
Mirek Tóda of Denník N contributed to this report.
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