Today, russian propaganda actively operates in the countries of the European Union. France, a country that ranks 15th among 35 other European countries in the media literacy index, is no exception.
Since late 2015, over 300 fakes of russian propaganda have been officially recorded in France. Such a figure was made public by EUvsDisinfo, a European External Action Service project.
Even before 24 February, russian RT and Sputnik channels sought to bolster their ratings in Europe. Thus, many European countries faced the challenge of countering disinformation intertwined with the issue of freedom of speech.
In this post, you will find out how the French government tries to contain the information front and not succumb to russian manipulation.
Until recently, the russian propaganda machine posed as various well-known media outlets (such as Bild, 20minutes, Ansa, The Guardian, or RBC Ukraine) and published fake articles and videos.
Its news depicted Ukraine as a corrupt state and a country of nazis. They also sought to disprove the callous conduct of russian soldiers, such as the brutal murder of the civilian population of Bucha.
Moreover, russian narratives aimed to intimidate the French and scare them, along with other Europeans, away from Ukraine.
In July, the most cited russian propaganda media in France turned out to be TASS and RIA News. Another propaganda TV network was RT France, the French version of russia’s RT News channel.
In March 2022, the European Union imposed sanctions against RT France and other russian propaganda news providers.
Despite the EU ban on the broadcast of RT channels, that TV network continued its operation in France and other EU countries until very recently.
However, on 21 January 2022, the French-language branch of the russian RT propaganda channel (RT France) suspended its operation following the freeze of its bank accounts.
In early July 2022, the share of russian propaganda in French news was 2.5%. In other words, every 40th news story contained disinformation about the war in Ukraine.
Such data was recorded during the monitoring of the coverage of the war in Ukraine in French and other European media by the Center for Strategic Communication, LetsData company, and the Detector Media NGO.
The RT France edition of Kremlin propaganda also manipulated the facts about the protest movements inside France. For instance, it targeted the Yellow Vests movement, demonstrations by people wearing yellow high-visibility vests who protested against the fuel tax increase.
Such manipulations aimed to sow strife and chaos within the population to make manipulating people easier in the long term. These facts were highlighted in a study conducted by the Center for Strategic Communication and Information Security.
French media often used the words “conflict” and “crisis” instead of “war” and sometimes outright resorted to using “special operation”.
In early July, France took the lead among other European countries that employed such inappropriate vocabulary.
Another gaffe manifested in the transliteration of Ukrainian cities.
French media often spelt the names of Ukrainian cities based on Russian orthography (For example, Kiev, Odessa, etc.)
The share of propaganda news in the French media space has greatly decreased. Nonetheless, some of the narratives of the Kremlin propaganda machine are still working.