Russian Disinformation Campaign Exposed by France

( – France has uncovered yet another effort by Russia to spread propaganda and false information in Europe, ostensibly to influence political outcomes in the region.

The discovery was made by Viginum, a French watchdog agency established in 2021. The agency aims to detect and expose efforts by foreign entities that use digital interference to influence public opinion. Since pioneering the use of bot and troll farms in 2014 to spread disinformation regarding its attempts at the subjugation of Crimea, Russia has since expanded its efforts globally, and in many cases launches anywhere from outright cyberattacks to more subtle means of spreading propaganda in order to influence public opinion and political events in key areas around the world.

According to Viginum, the current Russian disinformation campaign targets France, Poland, and Germany, along with several other countries in Europe. The initiative would coincide with the second anniversary of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine as well the upcoming elections for the European Parliament, which will happen in June.

The disinformation campaign involved the use of 193 websites, a network given the code name “Portal Combat.” The majority of the sites, such as “” were established several years ago but were left inactive to be used in the future – a tactic also employed by scammers and creators of fake profiles on social media. Other sites, such as “” and “” were created more recently. The sites are also available in several languages, including English, German, French, and Polish.

Traffic to the sites is currently low, but French authorities say that traffic would have picked up once the sites were “aggressively activated” for use. Once activated, the sites would contain content that would appear to be news stories, but would be propaganda and false information designed to undercut support for Ukraine in Europe. Viginum says that the operation of the ”Portal Combat” network is managed by a single Russian organization.

This is hardly the first time the Putin-run Russian dictatorship has targeted France or Europe with disinformation campaigns. At the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war in the Middle East, Russian propagandists spread supposed photos online of Stars of David stenciled on the walls of a Paris neighborhood with the goal of sowing intercommunity conflicts in the country.

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