France to probe Russia-linked social media accounts over role in protests

Kremlin rejects accusations as ‘nothing but slander’ France is looking into claims that Russia-linked social media accounts are trying to stir up trouble by spreading misinformation designed to amplify the ‘yellow vest’ protests. A source close to the inquiry said that the Prime Minister’s Security and Defence Directorate was coordinating the investigation of suspect accounts. Too early to confirm But the source said it was too early to confirm a claim in Britain’s Times newspaper that hundreds of accounts linked to Russia were being used to stoke the demonstrations. Bloomberg news, citing the U.S.-based Alliance for Securing Democracy, has also reported that #giletsjaunes (”yellow vests”) had become the top hashtag on 600 accounts promoting Kremlin’s views. A Kremlin spokesman rejected the accusations on Monday as “nothing but slander”. “We have not interfered and we don’t plan to interfere in the domestic affairs of any country, including France,” the spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said. Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused rights activists of double standards over their response to the French “yellow vests” protests after criticising Ankara’s handling of anti-government demonstrations in Turkey. “Those who defended human rights during the Gezi protests have become blind, deaf and mute to what’s happening in Paris,” Mr. Erdoğan said during a televised speech. He was referring to the 2013 Istanbul anti-government protests, known as the Gezi Park protests, that sparked widespread protests from rights campaigners.

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