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Europe

Russia denies stirring up France's Yellow Vest protesters online

media CRS riot police arrest a Yellow Vest protester in Paris on Saturday 1 December Abdulmonam EASSA / AFP

The Kremlin has denied allegations of online interference in France's Yellow Vest protests by Russian trolls, dubbing the accusation published in Britain's Times newspaper slander.

"We haven't interfered and we are not going to interfere in the internal affairs of any country, including France," Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov told journalists on Monday.

The denial follows a Times report that about 200 Twitter accounts have been publishing photos and videos of demonstrators appearing to have been seriously injured by police.

They claim they are from the Yellow Vest protests but they are in fact from other events.

Citing an inquiry by the New Knowledge cybersecurity group, the paper claims the accounts are linked to the Russian government.

In a separate report, the Bloomberg news agency cited a claim by a US thinktank, the Alliance for Securing Democracy, that #giletsjaunes has become the hashtag most used by some 600 allegedly pro-Russian Twitter accounts that usually concentrate on American politics.

Investigation launched

Peskov insisted on Monday that Russia respects France's sovereignty and is happy when France repays the compliment.

"Any claims about Russia’s supposed involvement are pure slander" he declared.

A security monitoring service working under French Prime Minister Edouard Phlippe is looking into the allegations, Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian confirmed on Sunday.

Officials say it will take some time to be able to reach any conclusions.

Russian troll factories have been accused of stirring up strife in Western countries, including interference in the presidential elections in the US and France, in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

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