Instead of sending love letters to the Élysée, the pro-Kremlin disinformation apparatus has taken France into its crosshairs by spreading lies and gross misogyny. Is Moscow afraid of something? 

EU vs Disinfo

April 4, 2024


Pro-Kremlin information manipulators are no strangers to mud-slinging, especially if they believe that they can advance their political agenda and the interests of their Kremlin masters with it. During the past weeks and months, we have paid attention to a continuous disinformation campaign that is targeting France and its first family.

The campaign targeting France proves that coveted Russian ‘traditional values’ are nothing other than a façade hiding an ugly reality of misogyny, hate speech, and brutal discrimination against minorities.

We also continue to witness pro-Kremlin disinformation machinery being harnessed in spreading baseless claims around the terrorist attack that took place at a concert in the Crocus City Hall on the outskirts of Moscow on 22 March. If you have missed our coverage on this topic, please have a look at our recent articles here and here, and the dozens of disinformation cases uploaded into our database.

‘Putincels’ attack the French first lady

As the role of women in Russian society is increasingly reduced to that of a child-bearing mascot in an ‘ethnonationalist, facist iconography‘, Kremlin propagandists are launching misogynist attacks against the French first lady, Brigitte Macron. Like for those in the incel subculture, it seems that strong, independent women pose a unique threat for Kremlin propagandists.

In a gross show of hatred against women, and particularly Brigitte Macron, pro-Kremlin disinformation outlets have been busy giving air to and a platform for the most ridiculous conspiracy theories concerning the French first lady. Particularly active in this realm has been the French version of Pravda, which Viginum, a French government agency, identified recently as a member of a network spreading pro-Russian propaganda.

Did the French hit a nerve?

One cannot escape the thought that Paris has hit a nerve in Russia and, taken together with the statement by President Macron that nothing should be ruled out in terms of military support to Ukraine, the Kremlin has now launched a more aggressive campaign to undermine the French authorities.

In the twisted narratives of this campaign, Brigitte Macron does not exist as a woman, but is actually a man. By airing thoroughly debunked conspiracy theories such as this, Kremlin propagandists try to attack the first family of France in a revolting show of misogyny and sheer hatred against minority groups called by Tsargrad, a sanctioned Kremlin-affiliated propaganda outlet, as ‘perverts’.

France smeared as an imperialist, warmongering, Nazi, Russophobic country

In addition to the attacks against the first family, pro-Kremlin mouthpieces have been busy incorporating France into their by now age-old spin. One recent example of such recycled disinformation narratives suggested that France is taking part in the upcoming partitioning of Ukraine – together with Poland, naturally.

In Russian fearmongering, pro-Kremlin propagandists portray the world as threatening and Russian enemies abound. Thus, it is not a surprise that in continuing earlier reported pro-Kremlin lies about France being dragged into a war with Russia, propagandists have now moved into spreading disinformation about France massively recruiting soldiers online, which obviously is not true.

Lastly, as a cherry on top, pro-Kremlin propagandists would be guilty of sloppy work if, when targeting someone, they did not call that person a ‘Nazi’ or some other slur. To avoid being called in for bad performance, talking heads on a Russian TV channel casually slipped in some Russophobia and anti-Semitism when discussing Russia not being welcomed to the Paris Olympics.

Straight out of Moscow

The Russian disinformation campaign against France is a textbook example of Moscow putting information manipulation tactics into the service of the country’s political agenda.

The disinformation narratives that the pro-Kremlin ecosystem spread attempt to attack both internal societal cohesion in France and people’s trust towards the leadership, but also French interests abroad and its alliances, such as the one between France and Ukraine.

In relation to France, Russia’s manipulation has an additional goal, namely undermining the position of Paris in French-speaking parts of Africa. In our section dedicated to Africa-related content, we have documented these targeted Kremlin campaigns.