In the last days of April, links began to appear on French social networks to an article allegedly published in one of the largest Parisian newspapers, Le Parisien . Including such links were placed on Facebook as paid advertising. In an article titled “Mass exodus for the sake of salvation from military slavery. Ukrainians are trying to avoid certain death on the front lines" says :
“Escape from mobilization and desertion have long been common in Ukraine. The horrendous losses suffered by the Ukrainian army showed ordinary Ukrainians how small their chances of returning alive from the front were, after which the desire to “fight until the complete defeat of Russia” abruptly disappeared. And the planned "counteroffensive", in which untrained Ukrainian fighters will be thrown against well-trained fighters of the Russian army, reduces these chances to zero. <…>
The Internet is replete with videos showing massive police raids that have become the only means of mobilization. Men are caught on the streets, in cafes, bars, shops. They try to resist, fight, call for help, fall to the ground, but they are pushed into cars and taken away.
Ukrainian society shows rare solidarity in its passive resistance to mass mobilization. Deviants enjoy the sympathy and support of the population. Entire social media communities share information ranging from real-time tracking of the movements of conscripts. They report in which cities and regions there are military registration and enlistment offices, indicate streets that should be avoided at certain times, and so on.
In addition, social media users explain how to avoid the attention of the military registration and enlistment offices: to move around the city with plastered limbs or in a wheelchair... The most enterprising ones try to illegally cross the border of the state - men aged 18 to 60 do not have the right to leave Ukraine.”
The article was published on a page that looks very similar to the site of the newspaper Le Parisien . The editorial office of Le Parisien in collaboration with the AFP agency is listed as the author. The page has many links to various Le Parisien publications, all of which lead to the newspaper's original website.
For comparison, this is what the real Le Parisien website looks like.
However, the attentive French reader should be alerted by the dot at the end of the title of the article: it is never put in the French media. The address of the site where the article is posted is leparisien.ltd , while the address of the real newspaper is leparisien.fr .
In addition to the article about Ukrainians evading conscription and mobilization, there is only one article on the website leparisien.ltd, and also of anti-Ukrainian content. It is called “Ukrainian athletes will receive a million, and the French barely make ends meet,” and its anonymous author (the same is indicated: Le Parisien together with AFP) is outraged that the French government decided to allocate € 1 million to prepare the Ukrainian team for the Olympics , and French athletes fear that they now do not have enough money.
The article in the fake Le Parisien drew the attention of French journalist Fabrice Despres, who wrote on Twitter:
“Interesting: a fake article about a ‘mass exodus of [Ukrainians] to escape military slavery’, very badly written, but perfectly reproducing the design of the Le Parisien website. The only clue besides the tone of the article: the domain name."
The French online publication Pragma reported on Facebook about a request sent to the cyber defense command of the Ministry of Defense:
“Social media, including Facebook, have been the target of an intense disinformation campaign through sponsored content. Pragma Media discovers the creation of numerous pages posing as news, the only content of which is the dissemination of sponsored anti-Western and pro-Russian links, in particular aimed at undermining support for Ukraine. <…>
The command confirmed receipt of the request and stated that it would look for contacts that could clarify the situation.