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France seeks to turn off the tap of information from Russia — embassy to Paris

The diplomatic mission pointed out that the French authorities were heading towards "establishing a ‘Ministry of Truth’ and were trying to authorize themselves to decide on behalf of their citizens what kind of information was suitable for them and which was not"

PARIS, February 16. /TASS/. France’s decision to block the French-language Telegram channel of the TASS news agency shows that they want to stop any information coming from Russia, the embassy in Paris said.

"No sooner had the ink on the Viginum agency’s report on ‘the pro-Russian propaganda network’ dried than the French authorities took action to unveil the objectives of this biased anti-Russian initiative. Access has been denied to the French-language Telegram channel of TASS, the 100-year-old and world-renowned news agency, as well as a number of other online resources, which were mentioned in the document, meant for the francophone audience. It is now totally evident that this Russophobic narrative was designed solely as a pretext to cut off any information coming from Russia," the Russian embassy emphasized.

The embassy pointed out that the French authorities are heading towards "establishing a ‘Ministry of Truth’ (in the dystopian novel ‘1984’ such a ministry is in charge of falsifying historical events) and are trying to authorize themselves to decide on behalf of their citizens what kind of information is suitable for them and which is not."

"Nevertheless, no matter how hard they try, the truth will be heard, particularly since the demand for it is growing in French society day by day," the Russian embassy added.

TASS’ French-language Telegram channel was set up in May 2023 to inform about key developments in Russia and the world, focusing on news from French-speaking countries. On February 15, subscribers started to complain that they were denied access to the channel. It could not be found in searches from the accounts registered to French SIM cards, and when subscribers tried to read an item of news, a message popped up saying that "this channel is unavailable as it violates local legislation."

The news agency has not received any notifications from either the French authorities or the messenger’s management. For the subscribers registered to phone numbers by operators from other countries, the channel is still available as before.

Viginum’s report

On February 12, the French government’s Vigilance and Protection Service against Foreign Digital Interference (known as Viginum) published results of its probes into an alleged network of online resources, "which disseminates pro-Russian content and targets several Western countries." The service claimed that the network is made up of 193 websites that "do not produce any original content, but instead massively relay publications" of the Russian media and state officials’ statements, and they cover the Ukraine conflict by "presenting positively ‘the special military operation’ and denigrating Ukraine and its leaders."

On the same day, French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne said that France, Germany and Poland intended to cooperate in the information field to cut short the spread of pro-Russian views and any potential attempt of interference ahead of the summer elections to the European Parliament. In addition, he blamed Russia for seeking "to destroy Europe’s unity" "by manipulating information" and slammed the dissemination of any pro-Russian position in Europe as inadmissible.