Arnaud Develay is a French lawyer in Russia-organized sham referendums aimed at annexing Ukrainian territories.
In Ukraine, in order to give the appearance of free elections to the annexation referendums, Russia has sent international “observers” to the Donbass region. Several well-known figures of the French far right were among them, an investigation by Libération revealed, including a former adviser to Marine Le Pen.
French far right figures in Russia-organized referendums as observers
Xavier Moreau, André Chanclu, Yvan Benedetti or Arnaud Develay: several figures of the radical right and of the conspiracy theorists made the trip to the Russian side to play the role of “foreign observers” of the annexation referendums organized by Moscow in the Ukrainian region of Donbass, Libération reports.
The French authorities have described it as “a parody” of a vote and “an additional provocation” by the Kremlin. Catherine Colonna, the French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, stated that the referendums in Ukraine are “a masquerade” that “we will not recognize”.
Arnaud Develay praised “the very good organization of referendums”
In Russia, a French lawyer Arnaud Develay, unknown to wide audiences, hailed the “very good organization of these referendums” to the Russian news website 360TV.
He was presented by Russian propaganda media as an observer from France. He visited polling stations in the Moscow region and noted that voting is taking place as usual.
The elections are held in the same way as they usually take place in any state in the world, everything is transparent. Many people came to vote despite the fact that it is a work day,
– he said.
Arnaud Develay is a lawyer in Paris and shared Putin’s vision of geopolitics
Arnaud Develay has presented himself to the Russian media as a lawyer in Paris and in Washington. He is indeed registered as an individual entrepreneur in Paris.
The lawyer spoke in favor of authoritarian and dictatorial regimes. In the summer of 2020, he intervened on a pro-Assad Syrian media to denounce the theft of oil in northern Syria by the Americans (a fake news) and was considering filing a complaint with the International Criminal Court.
Arnaud Develay also took part in a forum in Chisinau in 2019 with his report “The Rule of Law in the Age of Imperial Collapse”. He showed allegiance to Putin’s vision of the world, and quoted Vladimir Putin’s declaration that “The end of the Soviet Union is the most tragic event of the 20th Century.” He added that “Putin had long understood that only power-based equilibrium between powerful Nation-States could ensure respect for international law”.
Arnaud Develay is also author of articles on the Russian multilingual analytical ressource Geopolitika.ru which spreads Russian vision of international politics.
Ukraine calls for investigation on the “observers” in Russia-held referendums
The Ukrainian Parliament’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Dmytro Lubinets posted the list of “international observers”, who “observed” the sham referendum at gunpoint in the Russian-occupied territories.
He says it is essential to know the names of those who are helping the aggressor state, “legitimizing yet another lie.” The Commissioner for Human Rights and his team used open source intelligence to analyze the people whom Putin had involved in “observing” these “votes.”
For the most part, these ‘referendum observers’ are long-time stooges of the Kremlin. We can see that, compared to 2014, it is increasingly difficult for Russia to find those who would look respectable and be ready to cooperate with an aggressive and terrorist state,
– Lubinets wrote.
The Commissioner for Human Rights added that he had decided to contact the Security Service and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. According to him, these departments should respond to the fact that:
- the foreigners crossed the Ukrainian border illegally;
- they were in the temporarily occupied territories;
- they took part in an illegal “referendum” that undermine the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
Attempt to legitimize sham referendums
Thus, the French lawyer becomes a tool in Russia’s attempts to create the appearance of legitimacy of fake referendums that violate international law and are aimed at annexation of Ukrainian territories. The position of the French “observer” contradicts the position of the French government, which calls the voting a “masquerade” and the position of the Ukrainian government about “the attempt of the terrorist state to legitimize another lie”.
Will France investigate Develay’s actions?
Arnaud Develay favorably comments on the vote, forgetting about the violation of international law and of the territorial integrity of Ukraine. He also did not mention the deaths of tens of thousands of people, many children, in the ongoing Russia’s war. After all, Russia’s war against Ukraine brought the destruction of peaceful cities, mass murders, rapes, war crimes, and illegal occupation of territories. And now the Russian authorities are trying to disguise it as a “free vote”.
But how do such controversial statements and such biased activities match with the activities of a lawyer in France and the United States? In light of the statement of the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine that states should investigate the participation of their citizens in the role of “observers” in fake referendums – what will be the reaction of the French government? It remains to be seen how the French authorities will react to Mr. Develay’s misstep on the international stage amid the biggest war conflict in Europe since the end of World War II