Research (Insikt)

Sombres Influences: Russian and Iranian Influence Networks Target French Elections

Posted: 28th June 2024
By: Insikt Group®



Insikt Group's research assesses that Russian and Iranian influence networks are targeting the upcoming French elections, and so far, they are having a negligible impact. The Russia-linked Doppelgänger network uses cloned websites and social media bots to promote pro-Russian content, while the CopyCop network leverages AI to disseminate pro-Russia narratives. Iran's involvement is limited, likely in response to France’s support for Israel. Despite the assessed minimal impact, continuous monitoring is crucial to mitigate these foreign operations.

Russian and Iranian Influence Networks Target French Elections

As the French elections draw near, Insikt Group's latest research has identified ongoing influence operations linked to Russia and Iran. These foreign malign influence actors are attempting to shape public opinion and voter behavior, though their impact remains minimal.

Russia's Doppelgänger Network

The most prominent of these operations is the Russia-linked Doppelgänger network, which targets French audiences with content that impersonates legitimate French media outlets. Using cloned websites, this network spreads pro-Russian, eurosceptic, and populist political positions. The network employs automated coordinated inauthentic behavior (CIB) on social media to amplify its reach, though authentic engagement appears low.

Doppelgänger’s narratives often portray French President Macron as ineffective and criticize his domestic and foreign policy. The network frames the National Rally (RN) party as a preferable alternative that offers practical solutions to France's challenges.

CopyCop's AI-Driven Influence

Another Russia-linked network, CopyCop, is also active in targeting French audiences. Using large language models (LLMs), CopyCop promotes pro-Russia content and undermines President Macron’s administration. This network is notable for using AI-generated content to plagiarize and manipulate articles from legitimate French media sources. CopyCop recently registered two new websites, veritecachee[.]fr and franceencolere[.]fr, to continue its operations. One of them has an article likely trying to portray President Macron and his Renaissance party in a negative light by using an inauthentic website impersonating the presidential coalition “Ensemble Pour La République” to falsely promise Ensemble voters a 100€ reward.

Iran's Limited Involvement

Iran’s influence operations are more limited but still present. The International Union of Virtual Media (IUVM) has been linked to efforts to undermine France due to its support for Israel. These activities are opportunistic and focus on amplifying negative narratives about France’s political landscape.


  • Recorded Future Intelligence Cloud: Media organizations can use Recorded Future Brand Intelligence to identify and monitor potential forms of brand abuse, including typosquats, logotype detection, and other potential forms of brand abuse. They can also use the Recorded Future Intelligence Cloud to track each of the operations included in this report.

  • Public Awareness: Informing the public and relevant stakeholders about the tactics and intentions of these foreign influence operations can help reduce their effectiveness.

The 2024 French elections are a high-stakes period, with foreign malign actors attempting to sway public opinion and disrupt the electoral process. Although the impact of these operations has been minimal so far, continuous monitoring and proactive measures are essential to safeguard the integrity of the elections and uphold democratic processes.

To read the entire analysis, click here to download the report as a PDF.