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France uncovers Russia's disinformation campaign justifying war in Ukraine

Monday, 12 February 2024, 21:29
France uncovers Russia's disinformation campaign justifying war in Ukraine
French flag. Stock photo: Getty Images

VIGINUM, a French state body responsible for vigilance and protection against foreign digital interference, reportedly uncovered Russia’s special operation called Portal Kombat on 12 February. Within this operation a network of Russian websites spread the Kremlin’s propaganda about the war in Ukraine throughout the West.

Source: European Pravda

Details: The Portal Kombat network consists of at least 193 websites. At first they spread the news about Ukraine and Russia but since the beginning of the full-scale invasion targeted the occupied Ukrainian territories, and then several Western countries which support Ukraine, for instance, France.

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Some websites contained the word "pravda" in their domain names. For instance, an English-speaking portal could be found with the link pravda.en.com, and the French-speaking one – with pravda.fr.com.

"The websites of this network do not create their own content but repost content from three main sources: Russian or pro-Russian accounts on social media, Russian information agencies and official websites of local institutions or people," VIGINUM states.

From 23 June to 19 September 2023, the websites posted over 150,000 materials. The goal of Portal Kombat was to put Russia’s "special military operation" in a positive light and discredit Ukraine and its leadership.

"Trying to target a vast audience, this network uses a number of methods, specifically a thorough selection of pro-Russian propaganda sources according to target audience, large-scale automation of the spreading of content and optimization of search engines," the report reads.

Background: Back in June 2023 VIGINUM uncovered another Russian special operation, Doppelganger, within which websites-clones of leading world media outlets had been created.

Meanwhile, experts from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany detected a large-scale disinformation campaign in favour of Russia on Twitter.

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