FAKE ALERT: Ukrainian authorities planned an attempt on Emmanuel Macron

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On February 16, Ukraine and France will sign a bilateral agreement on security guarantees; it is for this purpose that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is visiting Paris tomorrow. However, not only the Office of the President of Ukraine and the Élysée Palace, but also the Kremlin started preparing for the visit; the latter decided to resort to audacious provocations.

“Irrefutable” evidence

Starting from February 13, Russian bots and pro-Russian social network pages began spreading a fake on Facebook, X (Twitter), as well as on Telegram, that Ukraine was allegedly preparing an attempt on the life of Emmanuel Macron. Supposedly because of this, the President of France was forced to cancel his visit to Ukraine, scheduled for February 14-15. Such a message could have become an international sensation if it hadn’t been for the extremely negligent execution of the provocation.

The main tool of the provocateurs was a 41-second video of a host of the France 24 TV channel presenting a story entitled “The assassination attempt on the President of France was prevented.” Citing a source close to French intelligence, the host says that the Ukrainian leadership allegedly planned an attempt on Macron’s life to “draw the attention of the world community to Ukraine and encourage an increase in arms supplies to Ukraine.” Kyiv allegedly planned to shift responsibility to Russia, accusing it of terrorist methods of war.

The fact that Russia does resort to terrorist methods leaves no doubt, but the rest is a complete fake. According to experts, the France 24 TV channel did not create a story of this or similar content. The fake video was generated using artificial intelligence. However, the provocateurs did not care about the quality: the host of one of the leading TV channels in France suddenly “spoke” with errors that are inherent in machine translation, whereas his facial expressions (movements of the lips, tongue, jaws) looked unnatural.

In addition, some “documents” were spread on the Internet: namely screenshots of a chat on Telegram about the plan to assassinate Macron, in particular, that the curator of the operation was to be Kyrylo Budanov, the head of the Main Directorate of Intelligence, and the Ukrainian military were to carry it out.  

As stated in the accompanying comments of the bots, the screenshots were allegedly provided by people from the entourage of Valerii Zaluzhnii, ex-Commander in Chief. He allegedly warned the French side about the danger because he feared that in case of failure of the operation, responsibility would be his. However, the content of the chat does not allow establishing the participants in the conversations. In addition, the text has clear signs that its real authors do not speak Ukrainian.

Russian trace

Why should this information provocation be considered to have a Russian origin? The first publication of this fake on Telegram appeared on February 13 on the Russian-language channel @kotreal, called “Kostian the Cat — the Official Channel.”

Subsequently, other Russian-language channels picked it up, such as @SchamanRahu, @sheyhtamir1974 (constantly involved in special information operations of Russia; earlier, we covered it in the material Your Last Chance: the Story of a Russian PSYOP), etc. Even a superficial analysis of the content of these channels shows that they are purposefully created to disseminate anti-Ukrainian propaganda content. Almost simultaneously, pro-Russian accounts on Facebook and X (Twitter) picked up the fake about the attack on Macron. For example, the latter platform had the fake shared by @Sprinter99800, specializing in anti-Israeli and anti-Ukrainian propaganda.

Russia’s motivation is also quite obvious. Concluding bilateral agreements on security guarantees with NATO countries strengthens Ukraine’s position. Such an agreement has already been signed with the United Kingdom, relevant negotiations with the United States are underway, and an agreement has been reached with Denmark to open negotiations. No surprise that Kyiv’s diplomatic progress is causing a hysterical reaction in Moscow.

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