Fears Russia trying to sow chaos in France by paying for Star of David graffiti

Investigators are considering whether Star of David tags found on buildings across Paris are the work of Russian state instigators, local police have said.

The graffitied symbols were seemingly made using stencils and have appeared on properties in the French capital in the weeks following the outbreak of Israel’s fresh conflict with Hamas, primarily in the city’s suburbs.

Local officials, among them the mayor of Paris, have deemed them antisemitic and threatening to local Jews, with French prime minister Élisabeth Borne damning the “despicable acts”.

Police arrested a Moldovan couple reportedly caught in the act spraying the symbols in late October.

While in custody, the two – a man born in June 1990 and a woman born in December 1994 – claimed they had been asked to scrawl the graffiti by a Russian citizen in return for a small payment, a source told local site Franceinfo.

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The Paris public prosecutor’s office later confirmed the people claimed to have acted at the request of a third party.

They were apprehended when a local resident reported seeing them tagging a blue star in the 10th arrondissement and taken to a detention centre for further questioning.

The couple repeated their claims that they had taken orders from Russia while in custody.

Investigators later discovered another couple spraying the stencils after reviewing CCTV footage, but they quickly fled the country.

French authorities have reported nearly 1,000 instances of Star of David graffiti across the country since October 7.

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Police now strongly suspect the two cases are linked and have relayed their suspicions to the French intelligence services.

Regardless of the surface intention, the investigators alerted intelligence officials to “what appears to be an attempt at destabilisation from Moscow”, Franceinfo has reported.

The two couples are likely not solely responsible for the stencils, with hundreds having appeared across Paris.

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Police have discovered 200 graffitied stars in southern Paris, Hauts-de-Seine and Seine-Saint-Denis.

Across France as a whole, French interior minister Gérald Darmanin said state officials have registered 857 such markings.

He said: “That’s as many acts of antisemitism in three weeks as there have been so far this year.”

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