Disinfo: Repression of the yellow vests in France way more violent than demonstrations in Russia


Jean Yves Le Drian spoke of a “very worrying authoritarian drift” in Russia, as well as a “questioning of the rule of law through collective and preventive arrests”. Proposals that we had not heard from a member of the government after the preventive arrests made during the movement of the Yellow Vests or the more than 10,000 in police custody and 1,000 prison sentences handed down in less than one year.

There were lot of reports about the crackdown on these protests all over Russia. But it was much much much less violent than the repression of the Yellow Vests’ demonstrations in France. We don’t see any injuries. Almost not at all. In any case, the opposition has not shown them. We see people taken away by force with a certain firmness, it is true, but without excessive violence.

France should solve the human rights issues in its own country before condemning other countries. Everyone should sweep in front of his door before looking into the neighbour’s place.


Recurrent narrative about the alleged double standards from Western governments and media concerning Russia.

The protests in France and Russia were addressed differently by the respective police forces. The newspaper Le Monde published a study which stated that in 8 months (from November 2018 to June 2019) 10,000 people were arrested, 3100 were condemned and 400 went to jail. By contrast in Russia, more than 10,000 people were put in custody in only 3 days (23/01 31/01 and 02/02) as counted by OVD-info.

The opinion that the police were way more violent in France than in Russia forgets to take into account important differences. The Russian demonstrators themselves were much less violent, the police presence was much bigger and demonstrators arrested on a massive scale. Therefore, the use of water canons, gas, grenades, rubber bullets were not involved.

Violence against demonstrators was indeed reported on the streets of Russia during the arrests. The most iconic is probably Margarita Yudina, a 54-year-old mother of three, who was kicked in the stomach. She accepted the apologies of the police officer who spoke to her in the hospital, in a visit covered by the media. However, the excuses do not stand up to scrutiny since the police officer pretended that the visor of his helmet was foggy and that he later learned that he hit a person and was sorry for it. On the video footage, his visor is not down and the officer clearly identifies a woman in front of him before kicking her to free the path. This type of excuse became an internet meme.

There were also reports about violent interrogations by the unit of the centre "e", although these have been dismissed.

The argument that Western diplomatic services should not express concerns about human rights issues in Russia because there are issues in their own countries, can be considered as whataboutism, but also ignores the degree and magnitude of these human right violations.

Read similar cases: In Germany people cannot demonstrate like they do freely in Russia , Reports of police brutality during Russia protests are Western propaganda, Double standards around violent protests in France, Germany and Poland, The EU criticised the elections and repression in Minsk, but in fact, the EU and its members have the same lack of democracy and repression .


  • Reported in: Issue 230
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 26/01/2021
  • Outlet language(s) French
  • Country: France, Russia
  • Keywords: yellow vests, Human rights, Alexei Navalny, Protest, Democracy
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