Arrests and suspected Russian link over coffins left by Eiffel Tower

The five coffins were draped in French flags

Composite image of Eiffel Tower and a tweet showing five coffins left near it
The men said they had been paid to drop off the coffins
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Three people were questioned by an investigative judge on Monday after five coffins were left by the Eiffel Tower draped in the French flag and bearing the inscription “French soldiers of Ukraine” on Saturday, June 1. 

Authorities are investigating whether the incident was an act of Russian interference. 

France’s intelligence service, the DGSE, in a memo seen by Le Monde, suggested the action was coordinated by Russia’s FSB intelligence service 

Prosecutors asked that the three men be charged with “premeditated violence”, Paris’ prosecutor’s office said. They were named as assisted witnesses and released pending further investigation. 

While the motive for the incident is not clear, it comes after President Macron said he would not rule out sending French troops to Ukraine and suggested French military instructors could be sent to Ukraine soon. Russia has criticised such a move. 

On Saturday, security footage showed a white van stopping close to the Eiffel Tower, and two men pulling out five full-size coffins filled with bags of plaster. 

The driver, a Bulgarian national, said he had been paid to transport the two other men and had arrived in Paris the day before. The two other men, a Ukrainian and German national, were arrested later on Saturday while waiting to take a bus to Berlin. They said they had been paid €400 to drop off the coffins. 

Police are investigating links between one of the men and a suspect in the painting of red hands on Paris’ Holocaust memorial in May, another alleged foreign interference operation, sources told FranceInfo.