EU newspaper’s April 1 joke fools Russian news agencies
Russian news agencies RIA Novosti, Tass, RT, and Interfax published reports today that one of Mistral-class helicopter carriers built in France for Russia would be transferred to the European Union. The source for this information—an April Fools’ Day joke that Russian media mistook for real news—was the online newspaper EU Observer, which claimed to have learned of the transfer from Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign policy chief.
EU Observer claimed the first Mistral ship would take the name Juncker, in honor of European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker. The military vessel would sail to Riga, the newspaper joked, because Latvia currently holds the EU presidency. The Juncker’s crew would supposedly be made up of soldiers from a certain unit based in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.
It was said that the Juncker would fly the EU flag, but be registered in Panama, in order to “save money on taxes.” The ship would be tasked with curbing Russian aggression in the Baltic region.
EU Observer joked that the Juncker would sail from Riga to Luxembourg, a landlocked country. This would occur, the prank article explained, when the EU presidency moved to Luxembourg. The second Mistral ship, EU Observer continued, would be named Mogherini, and be based on the Italian island of Lampedusa.
Russian media outlets quickly issued corrections, after learning from EU representatives that the story in EU Observer was an April Fools’ Day prank.