Kyiv, December 12, 2014. French activists gathered at Ukraine Crisis Media Center in Kyiv to discuss the influence of pro-Russian propaganda in France. According to the pro-democracy activists, there is a strong pro-Russian lobby in France of propaganda and the activist of radical political factions in the country. This was stated by several French activists, including a philosopher and historians.
The French pro-Russian lobby has its roots in the ideology of far right and far left-wing French political parties and organizations. The far left is historically supportive of Russia because of its reflexive anti-Americanism, while the far right is favorable toward Moscow because of its anti-globalization and Europeanization goals. The French Communist Party is a pro-Russian party of the far left, while the more influential Front National propagates Russian propaganda on the far right. The far right and far left pro-Russian lobby is quite influential on public opinion, including public perceptions of the crisis in Ukraine that is favorable to Russia. These groups have argued that the French government must deliver the Mistral warships to Russia, a sale that has been indefinitely delayed because of the current conflict in Ukraine.
The publication of anti-Ukrainian and pro-Russian articles in journals and news sources has been quite prolific in France. Many articles have classified the EuroMaidan movement as a fascist coup aided and abetted by the United States. The French activists believe that general ignorance among the population about their own history is in part responsible for the effectiveness of Russian lobbying in the country. During the Soviet period, the French were especially receptive to the Soviet labelling of their enemies as fascists. Many French believed the propaganda that targeted Soviet enemies, including pro-democracy protestors in Prague in 1968, as fascists. Now, many are susceptible to propaganda that labels the Ukrainian government as a fascist junta.
The activists say that pro-European French are fighting back against the influence of the French lobby. One of the activists, Michel Eltchaninoff, is the editor in chief of French magazine Philosophie Magazine, has published articles that expose the foundation of President Vladimir Putin’s ideology. “Putin is very openly advertising a Russian Way,” that is in opposition to the West and its values, said Eltchaninoff. General wariness of the United States’ influence in France, makes Putinism at least marginally popular to many in France. The contemporary strength of conservative social values and anti-European feelings is also fueling support for the far right National Front party, which is openly pro-Putin. “We together need to oppose that propaganda and that ideology,” stated Eltchaninoff.