Senator Natalie Goulet says she’s outraged by “neo-Nazism” and “anti-Semitism” raging in Ukraine, although errors in her statements reveal that the French politician has in fact no understanding of what she’s actually talking about.
On Monday, June 21, 2021, a round table on “Anti-Semitism in Ukraine” was to be held in the building of the French Senate. According to sources, Vadym Rabinovych, a People’s Deputy of Ukraine with the Opposition Platform for Life (OPZZh), was to visit the event. This pro-Russian politician has a special relationship with a French politician who has recently become just a bit too engaged in “exposing” Ukrainian “Nazism” and “anti-Semitism” than actually dealing with her country’s own issues.
Who is out of place in the Paris – Moscow – Kyiv triangle
Paris plays a special role as regards Ukraine, and not only in the Normandy Four talks – the only format able to actually stop Russia’s aggression against Ukraine – but also in other areas of reform and Ukrainian political life. Emmanuel Macron was the first president Volodymyr Zelensky met in April 2019, even before he was elected president. Global media even began to refer to Zelensky a “Ukrainian Macron.” In practice, however, official Paris is increasingly helping the Kremlin achieve its foreign policy goals.
On May 25, 2021, the French newspaper Ouest-France quoted Macron as saying at the European summit of “the moment of truth in relations with Russia, which pushes for a deep revision of relations.” After the French president achieved Russia’s return to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, he continued to promote the idea that the EU’s policy of sanctions against Russia is ineffective and thus should be abandoned.
Emmanuel Macron is offering this at the same time as Russian intelligence agents are conducting their operations in the French capital – rather openly, without much hiding. The forces, probably close to [Putin’s ally and the man believed to be a mastermind behind Wagner PMC] Yevgeny Prigozhin, set up in Paris a rally in support of the Kremlin’s policy in Africa – while CNN journalist Clarissa Ward (the same one who exposed one of the FSB officers who poisoned Alexei Navalny) published an investigation into Wagner’s war crimes in the Central African Republic.
Natalie Goulet back on her path of war
On June 13, 2021, the press service of the Opposition Platform – For Life (OPZZh) political party wrote that a delegation of French senators – Natalie Goulet, Joel Guerriau, and Jean-Pierre Moga visited Kyiv on May 31 at the invitation of People’s Deputy Vadym Rabinovych. [Vladimir Putin’s political operative] Viktor Medvedchuk’s YouTube channel – Pershyi Nezalezhnyi – ran a flattering coverage of the trip.
French senators discussed with Rabinovych the shutdown in Ukraine of the three pro-Russian TV channels, affiliated with Viktor Medvedchuk.
In addition to the official meeting, Natalie Goulet decorated Vadym Rabinovych with a medal of the French Senate and took part in informal events. Rabinovych took the French senator for a walk along Andriyivsky Descent. On June 18, 2021, Natalie Goulet’s videos she shot on her smartphone were shared by Russia’s Vesti news show on the Kremlin’s Russia 1 TV channel. Meanwhile, Natalie Goulet herself has been actively spreading Russian propaganda via Twitter.
The report by the Russian propaganda TV channel was headlined “French delegation encounters neo-Nazism in Ukraine.” It was then immediately picked up by a large number of Russian online outlets.
The report claims that during a walk along Andriyivsky Descent in Kyiv, Natalie Goulet allegedly ran into an event by the Azov Regiment, where children were trained to assemble rifles and got enlisted as volunteers to be deployed to the Donbas warzone.
Although the low-quality video clearly shows red-and-black tents of the Right Sector in the park named after Paris Opera singer and Donbas war hero Vasyl Slipak, Russian propagandists and their colleague Natalie Goulet pursue their claim that they saw the event by the Azov Regiment.
I wonder if Natalia Goulet, who is officially commenting on this footage for a Russia 1 TV journalist, has personally spoken to those she’s talking about? Or was it just “Rabinovich’s songs” he sang into her ears?
The reasons for the French senator’s lie are quite obvious. While the Azov Regiment’s image as an alleged neo-Nazi organization has been well-established in the Western information space, the connection between the “Right Sector” and neo-Nazism still needs to be “explained” in detail.
Anyway, on June 5, 2021, after Natalie Goulet’s return to France, the pro-Russian outlet Strana.ua wrote that the French senator had officially appealed to the French Foreign Ministry to “assess the neo-Nazi movement in Ukraine.” There has been no public response in this regard from French diplomacy.
From “ISIS camps” to “neo-Nazis”: French senator’s love for Ukraine
It is not the first time that French Senator Natalie Goulet has become an instrument in the hands of Russian propaganda pundits. Earlier, in the White Paper on Special Information Operations against Ukraine and in an oped “Medvedchuk and MEPs: How Useful Idiots Become Useless”, I wrote about the previous special psyops run by the Russian secret services with Goulet’s participation. Incidentally, after the French-language version of that article about MEPs was posted on the European platform blogactive.eu, it was deleted by the site’s administration at the request of the investigation targets. So much for the freedom of speech… However, the article remains in the internet archives where it can be retrieved.
On April 1, 2016, it became known about Natalie Goulet’s interview with France Inter 7 Radio, where she claimed there was a “camp” in Ukraine where jihadists are trained. Later, in a comment to the Ukrainian newspaper Tyzhden, she said that the camp was allegedly deployed in Dnipropetrovsk region, and that she had allegedly been told about it personally by the head of the Security Service of Ukraine, Vasyl Hrytsak. In the wake of the report, the SBU stated that the senator did in fact meet with their chief, but their conversation never touched upon ISIS.
The official spokeswoman for the Security Service of Ukraine, Olena Hitlyanska, then reported that in her letter to SBU chief Vasyl Hrytsak, the senator denied everything and said that her words had been distorted, including by Alla Lazareva, a journalist with the Tyzhden outlet. However, Lazareva made public her correspondence with Natalie Goulet, which confirmed that the senator was, in fact, lying.
Amid the scandal, Natalie Goulet wrote on Twitter that she, of course, “condemns the Russian operation in Ukraine” (thereby admitting it is actually underway, at least). However, she also criticized then-President Hollande’s decision not to attend the Victory Day parade in Moscow on May 9, 2015.
Goulet and Rabinovych’s friendship dates back to June 2019, when the parliamentary campaign was underway in Ukraine. Back then, MPs Nestor Shufrych and Vadym Rabinovych met with Natalie Goulet in Paris where they handed her a “peace plan for Donbas”, which was actively, albeit unsuccessfully, promoted by Viktor Medvedchuk, who was engaged in setting up various meetings with fringe politicians from Britain, France, and Germany.
At the time, Natalie Goulet promised to hand over the “peace plan,” probably inked in the Kremlin, to French President Emmanuel Macron. Its future fate remains unclear though. Apparently, the [pro-Russian political force] OPZZh changed their minds to bring peace to Donbas… or the plan wasn’t that good after all.
Rabinovych and Goulet against “anti-Semitism in Ukraine”
It seems that French Senator Natalie Goulet has switched from the actual French issues to purely Ukrainian ones. For example, she tweeted screenshots of posts by MP Vadym Rabinovych and Eduard Dolynsky, a Jewish activist close to the OPZZh, outraged about the presidential regiment allegedly being involved in the ceremony during a funeral of Mykola Samitsiv, a “former Nazi,” as she claims.
However, even in this case, Rabinovich’s “songs” he sang to the French senator are total nonsense. First, Mykola Samitsiv, whose name Goulet spelled incorrectly, celebrated his 99th birthday on May 7, 2021, and there has been no news of his passing whatsoever. Samitsiv is a member of the All-Ukrainian Brotherhood of OUN-UPA Fighters, a member of the Association of Political Prisoners of Ukraine, and part of the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists.
The funeral seen in the photos published by Natalie Goulet, with the official ceremony organized by the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine and the honor guard of the Bohdan Khmelnytsky Separate Presidential Regiment, is that of Orest Vaskul, who had headed the Kyiv Regional Brotherhood of OUN-UPA Fighters since 1992. Despite being arrested three times by the Soviet regime, he never stopped fighting.
It’s obvious that the French senator is oblivious about the stuff she’s sharing online and making statements about. Given this fact, it could be assumed with high probability that such a tumultuous activity is the result of manipulation by Ukraine’s MP Vadym Rabinovych. My investigation into his work in the interests of Russian secret services was published by Media Detector in December 2020.
The question remains, whether Natalie Goulet is a target of manipulation, playing the role of Kremlin’s “useful idiot”, or she is deliberately playing into Russia’s special information operations against Ukraine for a certain reward.
According to my sources in Paris, on Monday, June 21, 2021, a “round table” set up at Goulet’s initiative was to take place at the French Senate building. The topic of the event, which our sources say is supposed to be attended by Vadym Rabinovych, is “anti-Semitism in Ukraine.” We can confidently expect this week another wave of Russian propaganda spins to sweep across French and Russian media.
Dmytro Zolotukhin is a Ukraine-based media expert, former Deputy Minister of Information Policy of Ukraine (2017-2019). Detector.Media