Russia Allegedly Trying To Undermine The Paris Olympic Games

( — The 2024 Summer Olympics are set to begin in Paris on Friday, July 26 and anticipation and excitement are rising. However, Russia and their close ally Belarus are banned from participating under their flag this year. Athletes from either nation may compete as neutral unaffiliated participants.

However, the Microsoft threat intelligence unit has released a report suggesting that Russia is running an online disinformation campaign to discourage attendance.

The campaign seems to be focused on discrediting the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and amplifying fear of terrorist attacks in Paris. While there have been no terrorist attacks in Paris in 2024, France has been operating at a moderate to high alert level for some time. French authorities thwarted a planned terrorist attack in May that was intended to target the 2024 Summer Olympics. French Intelligence services have successfully foiled other such plots about 50 times since 2017.

The Russian disinformation campaign has been amping up fear regarding the Olympics recently, but it is not new. One shocking video was a feature-length documentary film shared on Telegram last summer called Olympics Has Fallen, which used AI-generated audio of actor Tom Cruise. The film is believed to be about the creation of a Kremlin-linked group called Storm-1679, which is also linked to videos of fake news broadcasts, often including impersonations of well-known broadcasters. They are also believed to have set up spoofs of French websites to further confuse people.

While there are very real threats in the world, escalating fear based on fabricated stories is in itself an act of terrorism. The IOC’s choice to exclude Russia in 2024 was a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, although Russia has been banned in the past for failure to comply with anti-doping regulations. The Russian government has claimed the ban is unfair and appealed but to no avail. The Ukraine-Russian conflict is still ongoing. Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has said that 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in the two years since Russia launched its full-scale invasion.

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