Dmitry Kiselyov’s news show “Vesti Nedeli” on Russian news channel Rossiya 24 caused a stir with its broadcast on 15 May, which sought to portray protests against French labour laws as anti-EU demonstrations, heavily manipulating the quoted statements.

In response, the French news show Le Petit Journal tracked down a number of interviewees featured in the report and confronted them with Rossiya-24’s story.

In order to create the narrative that the European Union and French democracy are crumbling under the weight of immigration, Rossiya-24 starts its report about Euroscepticism by showing violent protests against draft labour laws, unrelated to the European Union.

Vesti Nedeli goes on to attribute invented quotes to several interviewees: Ms Savannah Anselme, interviewed during protests against labour laws, allegedly declared that “there is no democracy in France” and “President Hollande betrayed the French and is seeking to shut them up”.

In Le Petit Journal, Ms Anselme confirms that she did not make such statements and her recording of the conversation with the journalist goes to prove that.

Message to Rossiya-24 reporters from interviewee Ms Raphaelle Tourne whose statements were manipulated: “You have completely betrayed and insulted me, I’m not happy at all!”

“It’s not even a false translation – their text is invented”
Another false claim is that a high school in Paris’ 19th arondissement had to be closed because of an invasion of more than 1.000 migrants. Le Petit Journal has checked with the mayor in charge who confirms that the school had been closed since 2011 and was subsequently used to house refugees.

Rossiya-24 also claimed that another interviewee, Ms Raphaelle Tourne is “really afraid of migrants”. Having seen the report, Ms Tourne reacted by saying: “It’s not even a false translation – their text is invented.”

Vesti Nedeli goes on to show that a pensioner who says was replaced by three migrants from Algeria and Turkey when she retired – a claim that the pensioner vividly denies in the conversation with Le Petit Journal.

To close the narrative on Europe’s migration issues, Vesti Nedeli’s item interviews former French Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire, who suggests closer cooperation with Russia as a solution. His words were taken out of context, Le Maire tells Le Petit Journal, and turned into “something quite different from what I wanted to say”.

Le Petit Journal’s video gained quite some traction on social media, with more than 1.7 million views on YouTube so far.

Rossiya’s response
It’s no surprise therefore that Rossiya posted a response, though readers can judge for themselves how convincing it is: Rossiya exposes Le Petit Journal’s “terrible lies” (sic).

The most prominently exposed “lie” was that the French journalists have called one of the interviewees, Elena Timoshnika, “university graduate” instead of an “economist”, in light of the fact that she had already started to work in her profession. Rossiya’s editors forgot to address Le Petit Journal’s main point, namely that Ms. Timoshnika did not in fact discuss Euroscepticism, as claimed in Vesti Nedeli’s report, but rather the proposed labour laws.

Vesti Nedeli also chose not to respond to the manipulations revealed, in particular the invented quotes attributed to interviewees.