France ‘overwhelmed by propaganda and disinformation’ ahead of EU elections – minister

Jean-Noël Barrot, the French government’s Minister for European Affairs, has complained about propaganda and disinformation attacking France ahead of the European Parliament elections in June.

He made this statement at a Politico-organized summit on technology and artificial intelligence.

Coordinated disinformation campaigns affecting France

Barrot claims that waves of disinformation force French intelligence services to respond ahead of the EU elections. Attackers are creating copies of media and official government websites, while fake accounts are increasing their activity on social media.

“In the past six weeks, there [has] not been one week without a coordinated disinformation campaign affecting France.”

Jean-Noël Barrot, the French government’s Minister for European Affairs

For instance, on the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and the EU elections, the French body for countering foreign influence, VIGINUM, revealed a planned disinformation campaign in France, Germany, and Poland in February.

VIGINUM reported it had detected a planned disinformation campaign in France, Germany and Poland tied to the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the upcoming EU election in June, which it called “Portal Kombat.” This website network was spreading a Kremlin-style disinformation.

French authorities also discovered Doppleganger, a large-scale Russian disinformation campaign, last June with the intention of undermining Western support for Ukraine.

Network of pro-Russian news websites in France

Insight News conducted a study in February-March that identified a network of news websites in Europe that propagate pro-Russian narratives, interconnected by quotations, hyperlinks, and user traffic. Among them are 60 dozen local French sites that either spread disinformation from the Kremlin’s state media or publish materials with narratives that fit Moscow’s agenda.

The identified network of websites disseminates negative materials against the political establishment in France and favorable materials about right-wing radical and Eurosceptic parties in the context of the European Parliament election campaign.

The websites on the list have different levels of bias, from constant criticism of the West, choosing only negative information about Ukraine and positive coverage of Russia, to spreading well-known Russian fakes and harsh Kremlin propaganda quoting Putin’s state media. 

Pro-Russian websites network in Europe that serves Russia’s information warfare

Russian propaganda disguised in independent ‘alternative’ media

The Reseau International platform is a brilliant example of Russian propaganda disguised in independent and ‘alternative’ media targeting France. This platform is positioning itself as a global independent media in 8 languages. As it pretends to be independent, it displays on the website that it’s financed with donations. 

But seeing the scale of publications translated into English, German, Turkish, Spanish, Chinese, Italian, and Russian, you might guess that enormous financing is behind it. It could be state-level funds.

We have reported a year ago that RT’s (Russia Today) closure in Europe would not stop pro-Kremlin propaganda from spreading in France, Germany and other EU nations. Pro-Russia propagandists, and even some journalists from RT, have disguised themselves in global media and publish their stories on new platforms, such as Omerta and Reseau International.

Russia designed methods to get around the ban on its state propaganda media, and the number of dubious websites promoting the same pro-Russian information has multiplied. To cover it up, the Russia-funded resources changed the brand of their work. And they replicated the content from “Russia Today” and Sputnik onto brand-new websites with no apparent links to Moscow. 

In addition, there are many pro-Moscow websites in the category of “useful idiots.” These new websites are divided into two groups by approach and ‘editorial policy.’ The first ones broadcast brute Russian propaganda without any cover. Others publish generic world news stories, simulating a balanced editorial approach. Still, they accurately insert disinformation and pro-Kremlin propaganda stories into their newswires.

Read also: Russian propaganda is deeply embedded in discussions in the West – expert

“Putin’s ‘friends’ want to destroy the EU from within – European Commission President

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned against supporting Putin’s political “friends”—extreme  right-wing and left-wing political forces—on the eve of the European Parliament elections. She said this in an interview with RND.

Von der Leyen noted that, in parallel with Vladimir Putin’s war of aggression in Ukraine, the anti-European activities of his left- and right-wing extremist political “friends” are growing in the EU. 

“Europe is now under a double attack: from the outside and from the inside”.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen

She stated that we should not take democracy or a united Europe for granted because they are real threats.

“We are now approaching a time when we must defend our democracy and this Europe. The attack on Ukraine has shown that many have underestimated and trivialized Putin and his planned actions for too long. Let’s not kid ourselves: “Putin’s ‘friends’ want to destroy the European Union from within, through a process of disintegration”.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen

Ursula von der Leyen called for democratic forces to unite, Europeans to attend the European elections, and the political center to strengthen. 

“Putin wants to influence all future decisions in the West this year in his favor, including the European Parliament elections in June, the East German elections in late summer, and the US elections in November”, Ursula von der Leyen stated.

We should expect attempts to manipulate this data, a flood of false reports, as well as disruptions and provocations that, if you look closely, have their origins in Russia. We have to stand together and be steadfast, including by consistently continuing to provide assistance to Ukraine,” the European Commission President said.

EU’s need to monitor pro-Russian website network

Recently, von der Leyen promised to fight back against Putin’s far-right “friends,” who, in her words, want to “steal the future of Europe.”

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz warned of threats from right-wing populists, speaking ahead of the European Parliament elections in June.

In these circumstances, experts, watchdogs, and EU states need to monitor these sites, and readers should question such content because efforts that favor Russia in the information field in times of geopolitical confrontation play into the hands of the Putin regime and are detrimental to Europeans.

After all, Russia has shown that it is waging not only a war on the battlefield to destroy Ukraine but also an information war to break up a united Europe.

Read also: “Voice of Europe” relaunched from a hosting in Kazakhstan

Read all articles by Insight News Media on Google News, subscribe and follow.
Scroll to Top