April 15, 2024

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Paris bedbug plague: France blames Russian online trolls

Paris bedbug plague: France blames Russian online trolls

Nasty little critters: Bed bugs can cause some unpleasant experiences.Built by: Shutterstock

Last fall there was panic in Paris: bed bugs reportedly took the French capital hostage. It later turned out that it wasn't so bad after all – today the French government says that someone was deliberately pushing the wrong story: Russia.

Nico Conset

The French government could prove it was a planned campaign, “part of Moscow's hybrid war,” as the French government put it. He did writes

This is what France's European Minister Jean-Noël Barrot told the biggest French TV channel TF1. Parrott further explained:

“The issue was sparked online by accounts linked to Russia.”

Russians' intentions? They wanted to harm France by damaging the reputation of the city of love before the Olympic Games in Paris next summer. If potential foreign visitors attend the games, they must believe they are at risk of being infected by insects.

The strategy worked — at least temporarily. The alleged plague and related videos went viral on social media, and media around the world (including us) reported on the disastrous conditions in the French capital.

For our teacher, alarm bells rang no sooner than “Emmanuel,” the largest bell at Notre-Dame:

But Russian online trolls went even further, Europe Minister Parot explained further: “Even a link between the admission of Ukrainian refugees and the spread of bed bugs was wrongly drawn,” the 40-year-old minister said. “It was also spread by accounts linked to the Kremlin.”

In response to the negative hype, Parisian hotels, cinemas and public transport companies also panicked. Precautionary exterminators were employed to put an end to the creeping creatures – the vermin hunters were fully registered and could not save themselves from the orders.

The issue was immediately discussed at Paris City Hall. As the Russians probably thought, there was a fear of lasting damage to their image. Emmanuel Macron's government also intervened and convened an emergency meeting.

A good 24 hours later, Transport Minister Clement Byon faced the media – and vehemently denied the bug rumours. 50 reports related to public transport were studied. Parasites could not be detected in one case. And no increased incidence was observed in hotels or other establishments. Nevertheless, the authorities relied on prevention and disinfected entire schools or theaters as a precaution.

Although cases of insect infestation in France actually increased slightly between 2017 and 2022, according to officials, ARD He writes that the October uprising turned into a tempest in a teacup.

It has long been known that Russia attempts to destabilize European countries or the United States through targeted online destabilization activities. In 2016, Russian trolls pushed the election of Donald Trump in the United States, and since the outbreak of war in Ukraine, fake news attacks against the West have increased.

More on Russian trolls:

France in particular, which supported Ukraine during the war – at least rhetorically – has been the target of such campaigns on several occasions. Recently, in Paris, masses of Stars of David were painted on house facades in order to divide people over the Middle East war. The perpetrators were caught and admitted to being paid by Russian clients.

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Or in mid-February, a deeply fake video about Emmanuel Macron of Russian origin circulated online, suggesting that the French president had skipped a visit to Kiev because an assassination attempt was allegedly planned against him.

I was at Paris Fashion Week – it was ridiculous

Video: Watson

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