Russia steps up disinformation campaigns against French elections, Paris Olympics

With the Paris Olympics approaching and snap elections liable to deliver a new government, disinformation campaigns targeting France have gone into overdrive, cybersecurity experts warn. Many suspect that Russia is ultimately to blame.

The French government cybersecurity watchdog, Viginum, released a new report last week detailing the risks ahead for the 2024 Games.

"Digital information manipulation campaigns have become a veritable instrument of destabilisation of democracies," it said.

"This global event will give untold informational exposure to malevolent foreign actors."

Viginum did not name Russia in its report, but since June 2023 it has published multiple reports singling out Russian efforts to sow divisions in France and elsewhere.

'Ecosystem' of disinformation

The Russian campaigns sowing anti-French disinformation began online early last summer but first became tangible in October 2023, when more than 1,000 bots linked to Russia relayed photos of graffitied Stars of David in Paris and its suburbs.

A French intelligence report said the Russian intelligence agency FSB ordered the tagging, as well as subsequent vandalism of a memorial to those who helped rescue Jews from the Holocaust.

(with AP)

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