A French television show has exposed a Russian news report about Euroskeptics in France as a cocktail of misquotes and falsifications.
The 12-minute report, aired on Russian state television earlier this month, displayed a France in chaos. It showed violent street protests over a new labor law and immigrants who had supposedly taken over a graffiti-sprayed secondary school in Paris. It interviewed a pensioner who claimed her job had been taken by foreigners and a young woman who said she was “scared of immigrants.”
It concluded with the words of far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, who blamed the problems on the European Union, and with Republican Party politician Bruno Le Maire, who was quoted as saying, “We must work more with Russia. The future of Europe depends on it.”
The report attracted the attention of Le Petit Journal, a French news and entertainment program. Le Petit Journal tracked down most of the people interviewed and showed them how their words had been translated. Every one of them said they had been misquoted. Some said the quotes attributed to them were simply invented.
Le Petit Journal also revealed the school that served as a shelter for immigrants closed five years ago, long before Europe's migrant crisis began last year.
The segment was aired on a prime-time Sunday news show on the Rossia 1 television channel, one of the country's two most-watched channels. Its anchor, Dmitry Kiselyov, declined to comment on Le Petit Journal's findings to Russian media.
The broadcast is one of many on Russian television that portray Europe as dysfunctional, awash with migrants and riven with social strife. Earlier this year a detailed report about a Russian-speaking girl supposedly abducted and sexually abused by migrants in Berlin was revealed as a fake.
A frequent target for propaganda is the European Union, which has enforced sanctions against Russia after Moscow annexed Crimea and supported separatists in eastern Ukraine.
A week after the item on France was broadcast, Kiselyov aired a segment about the upcoming referendum in Britain on membership of the European Union that included far more advocates of leaving the EU than of remaining.
During that show Kiselyov also found time to take a dig at Turkey, which enraged Moscow last year by shooting down a Russian warplane over the Syrian border. Kiselyov read out a Russian translation of a lewd limerick by former London Mayor Boris Johnson about the country's president, Recep Erdogan:
There was a young fellow from Ankara.
Who was a terrific wankerer.
Till he sowed his wild oats.
With the help of a goat.
But he didn’t even stop to thankera.
Kiselyov informed his audience that the goat in the poem was a reference to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has pushed for a deal with Turkey to regulate the flow of migrants into Europe. During the recital, a health and safety warning flashed on the screen: Suitable for viewers aged 16 and over.