Protesters walk past a burning pallets during Paris protest.
Protesters walk past burning pallets during the protest in Paris on March 11. Image by AP

Parisian pension protest has nothing to do with NATO

Meghan Williams March 16, 2023

A video shows French riot police clashing with anti-NATO protesters.


False. The protesters were demonstrating against recent reforms to France's retirement age and pension eligibility.

The fan page of a Sydney-based pro-Putin activist has claimed video footage shows “millions” of French protesters marching against globalism and NATO.

But the claim is false. The footage was recorded at a rally in Paris against recently unveiled pension reforms, as confirmed by the original creators of the footage and the General Confederation of Labour, one of the unions at the forefront of the action.

The video, uploaded in a Facebook post (screenshot here) to the fan page of Simeon “Aussie Cossack” Boikov, shows intense scenes of French riot police descending on protesters with batons.

Mr Boikov regularly speaks in support of Putin and in opposition to NATO (see here, here, and here).

The caption accompanying the video reads: “French Riot Police fight off millions marching against Globalism & NATO.”

At the time of writing, the video had received nearly 50,000 views.

Simeon Boikov (centre) is an outspoken critic of NATO
 Simeon Boikov (centre) is an outspoken critic of NATO. 

But the protest in the footage had nothing to do with “globalism” or NATO. The original video (also here on Facebook) was created by Loopsider video journalist Amar Taoualit.

Loopsider News told AAP FactCheck in an email that the footage was from a rally in Paris against pension reforms from March 11.

The caption also claims that there were “millions” of protesters. Loopsider told AAP FactCheck that unions put the figure at around 400,000 while the authorities estimated 80,000. The French press reported similar figures – see here. Other protests have been held in other French cities over the reforms.

The French government introduced pension reforms on January 10, at the centre of which was a policy to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 by 2030.  In spite of opposition, the French Senate adopted the reforms on March 11, the day of the rally highlighted in the post’s video.

The protests are centred on Macron's pension reforms.
 The protests are centred on President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reforms. 

No flags, banners or placards indicating any opposition to NATO are visible in the video.

However, there are flags and signs of a number of unions and political groups who have indicated their opposition to the pension reforms, such as the General Confederation of Labour (CGT), education union Federation Syndicale Unitaire, the French Confederation of Christian Workers and the French Communist Party.

A representative from the CGT confirmed to AAP FactCheck that the video was taken on March 11, when “there was in Paris a demonstration against the French reform of pensions not against NATO or globalism”.

“CGT with many other trade unions,” the representative continued, “demonstrated against this reform since the 19th of January.”

The Verdict

The claim that a video shows French riot police clashing with anti-NATO and anti-globalisation protesters is false.

The footage was filmed at a rally in Paris on March 11 where protesters demonstrated against French pension reforms.

False – The claim is inaccurate.

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