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4 Sep, 2022 12:43

Kiev spreading ‘propaganda by fear’ – French ex-presidential candidate

Segolene Royal has faced backlash after questioning Ukrainian accounts of events in Bucha and Mariupol
Kiev spreading ‘propaganda by fear’ – French ex-presidential candidate

A former French presidential candidate has accused Ukrainian leader Vladimir Zelensky of using ‘war propaganda’ as a tool to obstruct the peace process. Veteran politician Segolene Royal also called on the UN and media associations to fight against such tactics. 

Royal’s suggestion, that some of the “war crimes” Kiev blames on Russian troops were part of ‘propaganda,’ has made her a target for widespread criticism.

Speaking to BFMTV earlier this week, Royal said that “everyone knows that there is war propaganda by fear.”

As an example, she cited the alleged shelling of a maternity hospital in Mariupol – the story which made headlines in Western media in early March. Zelensky blamed Russia for the incident that, as local authorities claimed, killed three people, including a child. The Russian military denied targeting the medical facility and insisted the whole thing was a “completely staged provocation” by the Ukrainian side.

You can imagine that if there had been any victim, any baby with blood, in the age of cell phones we would have seen [their photos],” Royal stressed.

The authenticity of the photos presented by Kiev as proof of the claimed Russian attack were questioned by many online. Marianna Vyshemirskaya, one of the pregnant women featured in the images that appeared on the front pages of many major outlets, later claimed that there had been no Russian airstrike on the hospital. She insisted that she told AP journalists about this, but they decided not to mention it in their reportage.

Royal, who used to be a long-term partner of France’s former president Francois Hollande, also commented on the events of April in the town of Bucha near Kiev, after which Zelensky claimed that negotiations with Russia became impossible. Ukrainian authorities accused the Russian forces of multiple atrocities against civilians in the town, including the rape of children. Moscow firmly denied the allegations of war crimes, insisting it was “yet another provocation” by Kiev.

The stories of child rape for seven hours under the eyes of the parents: but it’s monstrous to go and spread things like that only to interrupt the peace process,” the veteran French politician stated, without elaborating

She also claimed that Zelensky used accounts of alleged torture of Ukrainian soldiers by Russian troops – which Moscow also vehemently denies – not only to impede any peace process but also to “remobilize” troops. She argued that as “there’s been enough horror of war and casualties” and that “Ukrainian propaganda” should be stopped “under the aegis of the UN and media organizations.”

After BFMTV tweeted a fragment of her interview with a caption “Segolene Royal questions certain war crimes in Ukraine,” the politician responded that this was “false,” as she’d “never denied war crimes.”

On Saturday, Royal published the final part of her remarks which, as she said, was cut by the television network. In this fragment she says that “there is a form of one-upmanship in the description of the horror, to encourage arms deliveries and to refrain from setting up negotiation and peace processes.” 

To plead for peace is to act for the end of the suffering of the Ukrainian people and of Russian aggression,” she wrote in a caption to the video.

Royal’s interview was condemned by some politicians as well as by many social media users. The Stand With Ukraine group representing the victims and the families of victims of “Russian aggression” even announced that it was considering filing a complaint against Royal in order to defend “the honor of disappeared.”

Meanwhile, the president of the party The Patriots, Florian Philippot, criticized “the aggressive and crazy reactions” to Royal’s remarks and said that she “has every right, and an intellectual duty” to question war propaganda.