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Moldovan citizens detained over graffiti warning against sending French soldiers to Ukraine

by Dominic Culverwell June 9, 2024 11:54 AM 2 min read
Graffiti of coffin reading "French soldier in Ukraine" in the 7th arrondissement of Paris on June 8, 2024. (Geoffroy van der Hasselt/AFP via Getty Images)
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Three Moldovan citizens were arrested in Paris over graffiti warning against sending French soldiers to fight in Ukraine, French media BFMTV reported on June 8.

They are suspected of spraying a stencil of a red coffin at the foot of a building in central Paris with the words “Soldat français en Ukraine” ("French soldier in Ukraine") on June 7.

Moldovan Foreign Affairs Minister Mihai Popshoi condemned the suspects on Twitter and said the incident was "part of hybrid tactics to harm our international image." Moldova will work with the French authorities to hold the perpetrators to account, he added.

French police have opened an investigation to see if the incident is connected with other recent provocative acts of vandalism in Paris. A police source told BFMTV that “suspicions relate to possible new foreign interference.”

On June 1, five coffins were placed next to the Eiffel Tower with the same inscription. Three suspects were taken into custody over the incident; a Ukrainian teenager, a German national, and a Bulgarian national.

An alleged Ukrainian art collective called “Mriya” contacted BFMTV and took responsibility for the action by the Eiffel Tower, claiming it was a call for peace. The group warned of more actions to come. BFMTV reported that the collective's Ukrainian name meant "Peace" but its actual translation is "Dream." It's not clear whether the mistake was made by BFMTV, or the group gave the wrong translation.

EU countries have accused Russian security services of subversive acts, including low-level sabotage.

French investigators told French Info that Russia was likely behind vandalism on Paris’ Holocaust memorial last month to “destabilize public opinion.” Bulgarian nationals are suspected to have painted red hands on the Shoah memorial on May 14.

Investigators said there was a direct link between the vandalism and the coffins by the Eiffel Tower, BFMTV reported.

Two Moldovans are also suspected to have painted hundreds of Stars of David across Paris in October 2023, shortly after the start of the Israel-Gaza War. A pro-Russian Moldovan businessman is believed to have executed the orders.

On June 7, a Russian-Ukrainian man was arrested over a planned terrorist plot after injuring himself in an explosion. He has been charged with participation in a "terrorist conspiracy" and possession of a substance or explosives with a view to harming people.

France has amped up support for Ukraine recently and is finalizing a coalition of countries to send military instructors to Ukraine.

French President Emmanuel Macron also vocalized support for Kyiv hitting military targets in Russia.

On Feb. 24, Macron announced he would not rule out sending Western troops to Ukraine.

NYT: Murder of Russian pilot in Spain bears similarities to earlier Moscow-linked killings
The murder of Maksim Kuzminov, a Russian helicopter pilot who defected to Ukraine, is similar to previous attacks in Europe linked to Moscow, but no evidence of direct Kremlin involvement has emerged so far, the New York Times (NYT) reported on March 31, citing unnamed senior police officials.
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