The report called Information Manipulation: a Challenge for Our Democracies, which was issued on Tuesday, was prepared by the French Foreign Ministry’s Center for Analysis, Planning and Strategy (CAPS) and the Defense Ministry’s Institute for Strategic Studies (IRSEM).
Authors of the report claimed that the alleged Russian meddling in the Ukrainian conflict, Brexit referendum as well as French and US presidential elections showed that the “Western democracies, even the biggest ones, lack immunity” against foreign interference. The report however provided no evidence proving the Russian interference in the other countries’ affairs.
The document contains a list of 50 recommendations to the French authorities and society. The 19th recommendation proposes marginalization of the “foreign bodies of propaganda.”
The report accused RT and Sputnik on manipulating the information as well as falsifying facts, documents, translations and interviews.
Sputnik and RT's editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan repeatedly stressed that not a single example of spreading misinformation by the Russian media was ever provided by Macron's team.
At the beginning of the report, its authors pointed out that the document should not be viewed as an official position of the French government.
Last year, RT reporters were denied entry to the headquarters of then-French presidential candidate Macron twice in April, and in May, a Sputnik reporter was not allowed to enter the square in front of Paris' Louvre museum where Macron and his supporters were celebrating the victory in the presidential run-off. After Macron became French president, he accused RT and Sputnik of “spreading false information and slander.”
Macron announced his plan in January to draft a law to fight against "fake news", stressing his wish to ban "fake news" during elections. The excerpts from the draft law published by media in March revealed that French broadcasting watchdog Conseil superieur de l’audiovisuel (CSA) would have a broader authority over the operations of foreign media in the country. RT and Sputnik were also cited in the text.
The situation around RT and Sputnik in France is not unique for the European Union: in 2016, the European Parliament adopted a resolution claiming that Russia was waging information warfare and singled out RT and Sputnik. Russian President Vladimir Putin responded to the move by saying that the resolution proved that Western democracy was failing, but expressed hope that common sense would prevail and Russian media outlets would be able to work abroad without restrictions.