France: Two Moldovans charged over coffin graffiti in Paris

This photograph shows graffiti about the ongoing invasion of Ukraine by Russia, on the facade of the Agence France Presse headquarters in Paris, on June 20, 2024.

French prosecutors on Saturday, June 22, charged two Moldovans suspected of painting coffins and a slogan urging an end to the war in Ukraine on the facade of Le Figaro, a prominent French newspaper, a judicial source said. It was just the latest in a series of such acts in the capital in recent weeks.

French officials have repeatedly warned of the risks of disinformation and other attacks by Russia over France’s support for Kyiv. Tension between Paris and Moscow has increased since President Emmanuel Macron said earlier this year he had not ruled out sending troops to Ukraine.

The two men, who carried Moldovan passports, were arrested overnight Thursday-Friday after six red coffins and the phrase “Stop the Death, Mriya, Ukraine” were painted on the building of right-wing daily Le Figaro. Mriya means “dream” in Ukrainian.

They are being held on charges of destruction of property and participating in “an effort to demoralize the army to harm national defense in peacetime”, the source said.

Paid about €100 to paint the graffiti

Six similar coffins were found early Thursday on the facade of the Agence France-Presse headquarters in central Paris, not far from the Figaro offices. A source close to the case said the two Moldovans claimed to have been paid around €100 to paint the graffiti.

A separate investigation has been opened after graffiti showing French Mirage fighter jets in the form of coffins were found last Tuesday in three districts of Paris. They included the phrase “Mirages for Ukraine”. Similar graffiti was discovered on the walls of the AFP building Monday.

Macron announced in early June that France would send Mirage-2000 fighter jets to Ukraine and train their Ukrainian pilots as part of a new military cooperation with Kyiv. On June 8, French police said they were holding three young Moldovans suspected of being behind inscriptions of coffins in Paris with the slogan “French soldiers in Ukraine”. They were later charged with property damage and released.

Moldova’s Foreign Minister Mihai Popsoi posted on X, formerly Twitter: “We regret and firmly condemn the incident”. He said the “vandalism” was “part of hybrid tactics to harm our international image”. Popsoi reiterated his comment on Saturday, denouncing an “instigation to hate”. “We call on Moldovan citizens to be vigilant and not to allow themselves to be manipulated to the detriment of our country.”

Le Monde with AP

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