PARIS (Reuters) – A major Paris-based Russian cultural institution on Sunday night was attacked with a Molotov cocktail, newspaper Le Parisien reported – the most serious targeting of a Russian building in France since the start of the war in Ukraine.
A security guard at “The Russian House of Science and Culture” (MRSC) alerted police after discovering that the gate of the building had been attacked, the report said. The office, located in the French capital’s wealthy 16th district, enjoys diplomatic status.
Pieces of glass and liquid were found on the ground, the report added, citing a police source. French authorities also found a billboard that had partially melted and blackened by fire.
The MRSC referred callers to the Russian embassy in Paris. A spokesman for the embassy did not immediately reply to a request for comment. On its Twitter page, the Russian embassy shared video footage of an explosion near the gate of a building and called on “the French authorities to ensure the security of official Russian representatives in France.”
According to its website, the MRSC offers Russian language classes and hosts photo and arts exhibitions among other activities.
Buildings linked to Russia had been targeted several times since the country’s military invaded neighbouring Ukraine in what Moscow describes as a “special military operation,” but which has been condemned by numerous countries as an attack on a sovereign state.
Last week, a palatial Russian-orthodox church close to the Eiffel Tower was hit with vandalism calling Russian President Vladimir Putin a “criminal,” French media reported.
Reuters reported that thousands have been detained in Russia for protesting the war in Ukraine. Police detained more than 4,300 people on Sunday at anti-war protests across Russia, according to an independent protest monitoring group.
(Reporting by Tassilo Hummel; Editing by Aurora Ellis)