A presenter with the face of a young first. Loud-mouthed columnists. A program name that announces the color, “L’Antenne libre”. On TV Zvezda, we are not here to do half measures. We are on the official Russian army TV channel. On this December 1, 2022, a debate is devoted to the media treatment of the war in Ukraine. On the bench of the accused: Western “propaganda”, which would demonize Russia and silence Ukrainian abuses. A witness for the prosecution is invited to sit in the middle of the stage. A Frenchman, tall, massive, shaved head and thick beard: Charles of Anjou. “He is the president of Omerta and the producer of the documentary Russian Front: Putin’s Ukraine,” announces the host. He spent four weeks in the special military operation area. He was not afraid of pressure and took the risk of filming on the Russian side. »
The 40-year-old guest speaks Chekhov’s language fluently, despite some declension errors. He explains that he wants to invest in a “niche”: the Putinian side of the conflict, contrary to the “propaganda” French journalists, who work “all on the side of kyiv”. “The Ukrainians have a very strong, very effective propaganda”, judges Charles d’Anjou. He intends to show that Russian soldiers are “completely normal people”. “Do French viewers want to know our point of view? “Asks a columnist, doubtful. “They are ready for it,” replies the guest. “A huge thank you, congratulates the presenter. Your film will be seen by historians and military analysts fifty or a hundred years from now. They will draw conclusions about this conflict. »
Presenting the Russian point of view
Zvezda TV programmers know Omerta well. The average French Internet user, a little less. The online media, launched on November 16, 2022, still navigates in relative confidentiality. Whatever. Since the start of the offensive in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, Russia has been looking for relays in its information war. In France in particular, where public opinion, as in a large part of European countries, has lined up behind the Ukrainian banner. The RT channel (ex-Russia Today) and the Sputnik site, both funded by Moscow, were banned from broadcasting in the European Union a week after the start of the Russian invasion. A hard blow, as these media had carved out a place for themselves in the hexagonal landscape, in particular thanks to the crisis of the “yellow vests”: on February 23, the Sputnik website still weighed 8 million monthly visits; that of RT France, 4 million.
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