France Investigates Russian Provocations

The Russian ‘fifth column’ in France never rests. It has, in fact, intensified its destructive measures, with a particular focus on the Paris Olympics and the forthcoming parliamentary elections.

Five coffins with a French flag and the words “French soldiers from Ukraine” were found underneath the Eiffel Tower on Saturday, June 1st.

The Paris Mémorial de la Shoah, honouring people who distinguished themselves by helping to rescue Jews in France during the country’s Nazi occupation during the Second World War, was vandalised on Tuesday, May 14, with painted blood-red hands.

Stencils of blue Stars of David appeared on Paris residential buildings. Similar graffiti was also found in Berlin and Oxford.

French authorities accused Russian security services, as all the investigations into the provocative actions point to Russia’s involvement. Needless to say that the Russian Embassy in Paris has denied any involvement.

As the 2024 Paris Opening Ceremony approaches, the Microsoft Threat Analysis Center (MTAC) has observed that old tactics are blending with artificial intelligence in malign activity. The main objective is to undermine the international Olympic Committee’s reputation and create the expectation of violence breaking out at the Games in Paris.

In its blog post, the Threat Analysis Center mentioned that Russian influence actors Storm-1679 and Storm-1099 have launched misinformation campaigns against the 2024 Olympics, France, its president Emmanuel Macron, and the International Olympic Committee.

Storm-1679 fake video allegedly from France24 TV went viral online, claiming that 24% of tickets were returned to the box office “due to fears of possible terrorist attacks”.

Storm-1099 in turn operates a network of 15 websites. They all offer content written in good French, all disguised as news outlets. They are, however, manipulative propaganda resources, not media. The seemingly neutral content clearly shows the goal: to frighten the French with terrorist attacks and turn them against Macron.

Olympics-focused activity kicked off back in June 2023, when Storm-1679 released on Telegram and then spread online “Olympics Has Fallen”, a film mimicking the 2013 American political action thriller “Olympus Has Fallen”. Using a fake AI-generated audio impersonating the actor Tom Cruise to imply his participation.

Věra Jourová, European Commissioner for Values and Transparency, claims that EU sanctions should be more consistent. The Czech politician believes that “Russian funding of media, NGOs and political parties in the EU should also be banned”.

In preparation for the upcoming early parliamentary elections in France, the topic of Russian influence and interference is being raised constantly during the candidates’ debates.

Particularly, the mayor of Cannes, David Lisnard, has once again publicly accused the far-right National Rally party (formerly the National Front led by Marine Le Pen) of collaborating with Moscow.

He believes that at least one of the fifteen candidates from the National Rally who were fake observers at the election in Russia will win. Mr Lisnard is referring to an investigation by Mediapart

French authorities and Microsoft are committed to protecting the conduct of the 2024 Summer Olympic Games. Any campaigns backed by the Kremlin will be tracked and reported on by MTAC.

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