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Over Half the French Believe in Russian-Backed Conspiracy Theories

April 22nd, 2022 08:05

EURACTIV,  an inde­pen­dent pan-Euro­pean media net­work, report­ed late last month that more than half of the French pub­lic believes in at least one Russ­ian con­spir­a­cy nar­ra­tive about the Ukraine war. Accord­ing to the EURACTIV report:

March 28, 2022 More than half of the French believe in at least one con­spir­a­cy nar­ra­tive about the Ukraine war ped­dled by Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s regime, a recent sur­vey has revealed. The French are “far from being imper­vi­ous to the Putin nar­ra­tive on the ori­gin of the war in Ukraine”, the IFOP opin­ion poll pub­lished on Mon­day writes. Those sur­veyed reviewed some of the stances about the war put for­ward by the Russ­ian regime, and half believed in at least one of them. The fig­ure increased to almost two-thirds for the respon­dents who vot­ed for the most rad­i­cal left or right-lean­ing par­ties. For exam­ple, 66% of the sup­port­ers of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s rad­i­cal left par­ty La France Insoumise believe in at least one the­o­ry on the war’s ori­gins put for­ward by the Krem­lin. This fig­ure ris­es to 73% among sup­port­ers of the Recon­quête par­ty, found­ed by for­mer polemi­cist and far-right can­di­date Éric Zem­mour. Accord­ing to the sur­vey, 30% of the French believe “the Unit­ed States and the coun­tries of the Euro­pean Union encour­aged Ukraine to ask to be inte­grat­ed into NATO so that it could ben­e­fit from their pro­tec­tion against Rus­sia”, while 10% of them con­sid­er that “Ukraine is gov­erned by a jun­ta infil­trat­ed by neo-Nazi move­ments”. Those who say they get most of their infor­ma­tion from social media out­num­bered those who get their infor­ma­tion from tra­di­tion­al media like major TV chan­nels. Some 72% of social media believ­ers and 59% of TV believ­ers trust Russia’s nar­ra­tive on the war. Many anti-vaxxers also said they believed in the Kremlin’s jus­ti­fi­ca­tions for the war, with 71% of them sid­ing with Putin’s rhetoric.

In March, a Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) inves­ti­ga­tion found Russ­ian state-backed media was ampli­fy­ing far-right can­di­date Marine Le Pen ahead of the French pres­i­den­tial elec­tions that took place ear­li­er this month. Accord­ing to the investigation:

Most Russ­ian reports empha­size Le Pen’s crit­i­cism of West­ern sup­port for Ukraine and NATO, which she has promised to leave if she wins the elec­tion. Russ­ian state media out­let TASS recent­ly report­ed that Le Pen has warned an embar­go on Russ­ian oil would be tan­ta­mount to ‘harakiri.’

Read the rest here.

In Octo­ber 2021, we report­ed on a study exam­in­ing pro-Russ­ian polit­i­cal forces in France, which argued that the lead­ing lob­by­ists for Russ­ian inter­ests are French politi­cians loy­al to the Krem­lin. Accord­ing to that study, these politi­cians include far-right fig­ure Marine Le Pen and for­mer Prime Min­is­ter François Fil­lon, along with rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the media, busi­ness, and civ­il society: