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France, Germany, Poland face ‘permanent’ Russian disinfo attacks: EU

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France, Germany and Poland have become “permanent” targets for Russian disinformation attacks in the run-up to European Parliament elections this week, a senior EU official said Tuesday.

The European Union has repeatedly warned heading towards the June 6-9 vote that Russia would ramp up disinformation campaigns in the 27-country bloc.

“There are three big countries under permanent attack (from Russia). And it’s France, it’s Germany, and it’s Poland,” said EU commissioner Vera Jourova, pointing to work by the European Digital Media Observatory, of which AFP is part.

There are “more massive disinformation attacks on specific topics”, said Jourova, the commissioner for values and transparency. For example, in France they are focused on this summer’s Olympic Games in Paris.

In Germany, she said, they exploit concerns over migration and security, while in Poland, a narrative has appeared online that Ukrainian refugees are a “burden”.

She pointed to a false story on the Polish state news agency last week stating that Poles would be mobilised to fight in Ukraine, which authorities said was likely a Russian cyberattack.

“Russian propaganda is done with… very good knowledge of which country has some sensitivities, which country can absorb better the narratives,” Jourova said.

She was speaking to journalists in Brussels after a visit to the United States to meet with executives of the world’s biggest tech companies, including X and YouTube.

She said she urged “maximum vigilance in these last days”.

She said she also reminded the companies of their stringent obligations under the EU’s landmark content moderation law, known as the Digital Services Act.

Her comments come a day after similar findings by Microsoft in a new report.

The US tech giant’s Threat Analysis Center said Russia was waging an intense disinformation campaign aimed at tarnishing the reputation of the International Olympic Committee and stoking fears of violence at the Games.

Microsoft President Brad Smith, who was in Brussels to meet EU officials including Jourova, echoed her concerns about Russian influence operations.

“The number one abusive AI case that people are worried about is the risk of deepfakes influencing elections, especially deepfakes that come from foreign governments,” Smith said.

“And we’ve definitely seen the Russian government investing in that capability.”


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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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