Russian Disinformation: Targeting French Media, Kate Middleton and Beyond

French News Agency’s Identity Used to Spread the Threat of a Severe Epidemic

On Wednesday, Radio France International became the latest victim of a Russian disinformation campaign. The French agency reported that a fake video purportedly from RFI appeared online, claiming that a tuberculosis epidemic threatened France due to the admission of Ukrainian soldiers to the country’s hospitals.

The fraudulent production was first published on the Telegram messaging application at 2:47 pm Paris time (10:47 in Argentina) by a Russian account called “Russia News” with about 4,282 followers. The video’s narrative claims without evidence that an Ukrainian tuberculosis epidemic threatens France due to the admission of Ukrainian soldiers for treatment. The accompanying commentary concludes: “Bedbugs and tuberculosis. If only it could go to the Olympics in France…”.

Subsequently, new Russian-language Telegram channels shared this false report attributed to RFI, one of them followed by over 118,000 people and both have been identified as important vectors of pro-Russian propaganda since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine. The video was later published on VKontakte, the equivalent of Facebook in Russia, followed by X (formerly Twitter), and on various Russian websites. Each time, it is almost word-for-word the same comment in Russian that accompanies the video.

This mode of operation has already targeted many French and international media outlets. If there are any questions about the authenticity of RFI brand content, individuals can contact Info Verif unit on WhatsApp at +33 6 89 07 61 09. This information attack leaves little doubt about its origin and is likely both commercial and political in nature.

Meanwhile, investigators in Britain reported that a Russian disinformation operation contributed to a whirlwind of conspiracy theories surrounding Kate Middleton following her cancer diagnosis revelation last week. The aim of this campaign was likely both commercial and political. Social media activity surrounding Kate increased in recent months due to a lack of information about her condition leading to rumors and speculation. The Russian network amplified these posts to boost their own traffic statistics and follower count while targeting countries or individuals at odds with Kremlin like Britain’s support for Ukraine or London’s antagonistic history with Moscow could have made it prime target for Russians

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