France accuses Russia of ‘online interference’ over Star of David graffiti

France accuses Russia of 'online interference' over Star of David graffiti
Source: Twitter

France accused Russia Thursday of interfering in its affairs by sharing photos online of Stars of David found daubed on dozens of buildings in Paris.

The foreign ministry in a statement accused the Russian RRN/Doppelganger network of attempting to “exploit international crises to sow confusion and create tension in the public debate in France and Europe”, and of mounting a “new operation of Russian online interference”.

The accusation came after French prosecutors this week launched an investigation into the possibility that the graffiti, widely condemned as anti-Semitic, may have been carried out at the “express demand” of an individual residing abroad.

An investigating magistrate will probe the intention of the acts, prosecutor Laure Beccuau said in a statement Tuesday, following the arrest of two Moldovans who told investigators they were acting at the behest of a third party.

This has led to widespread suspicion that the French probe is specifically targeting Russia.

On Thursday, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters that such accusations were “stupid, utter rubbish and just plain undignified”.

“This is an attempt by the authorities in France, or their special services, simply to pretend that the growth of anti-Semitism in France is something other than an internal problem,” she added.

The RRN/Doppelganger network has been accused of previous disinformation campaigns against France.

Tensions have been rising in France, home to large Jewish and Muslim communities, in the wake of the unprecedented attack by Palestinian militant group Hamas on Israel on October 7 which has been followed by Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

The graffiti, which for some brought back horrific memories of the Nazi occupation of Paris during World War II and the deportation of French Jews to death camps, was condemned across the political spectrum.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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