On December 15, 2022, the French regulator obliged the satellite operator Eutelsat to stop broadcasting three Russian channels, Rossiya 1, Channel 1, and NTV. Their programs contained hate speech and calls for violence. The cutoff of the Russian propaganda TV channels followed a decision by the French telecommunications regulator ARCOM.
Photo: Omerta media launch, Photo Jeanne Accorsini / Sipa
Since 2022, in response to Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine, the European Union has blocked several Russian state propaganda TV channels as part of sanctions, prohibiting them from broadcasting their content via cable, satellite TV, the Internet, or smartphone apps.
Omerta is the new mouthpiece of Russian propaganda in France
Despite the ban on broadcasting in the European Union, the Moscow-funded RT France channel and the Sputnik website hold their presence in the information field. And the online media outlet Omerta, backed by businessman Charles d’Anjou, joined the ranks of Russian propaganda resources last fall. The relatively new Omerta news agency, officially launched on November 16, 2022, operates in relative secrecy.
Having analyzed the main messages of the official website of Omerta, we can conclude that the media completely retranslates the central narratives of the Russian propaganda machine. The main part of the content is dedicated to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as well as criticism of the European media, in particular the “demonization of Russia” and too pro-Ukrainian position of the French journalists.
Intimidation, manipulation of facts, and substitution of concepts are among the primary and critical tools of Omerta media, which, along with Russian propaganda journalists, try to influence the opinion of French citizens.
Who is Monsieur d’Anjou?
At first glance, it might seem that 40-year-old successful businessman and former journalist Charles d’Anjou is creating a media resource to gain profit in the French media market, presenting balanced views, covering objective news stories, and fighting against disinformation.
But is this the case?
On December 1, 2022, Mr. d’Anjou was invited to a TV show on the Russian Zvezda channel, the official TV of the Russian army, in a program dedicated to the coverage of war events.
President of Omerta and producer of the documentary “Russian Front: Putin’s Ukraine,” the host announces. “He spent four weeks in the area of a special military operation (it’s how the Russian regime calls the war in Ukraine – ed.). He wasn’t afraid of the pressure and risked going to film on the Russian side.”
The 40-year-old guest speaks fluent Russian, despite a few errors in declination. He explains that he wanted to invest in a “niche”: the Putin side of the conflict, as opposed to the “propaganda” French journalists who work “all on the Kyiv side.” “The Ukrainians have powerful and effective propaganda,” says Charles d’Anjou.
He intends to show that Russian soldiers are “quite normal people. “Do French viewers want to know our point of view? “They are ready for it,” replies the guest. Thank you very much,” the host congratulated him. Your film will be seen by historians and military analysts fifty or a hundred years from now. They will conclude this conflict.
According to Intelligence Online, Mr. d’Ajnjou has lived in Russia for about 15 years and has ties to Russian military intelligence.
Russian cunning media swap outcomes
Since the beginning of the all-out war against Ukraine on February 24, 2022, Russia has sought allies in Europe for its information and psychological warfare. In France, public opinion favors Ukraine, as in most European countries, seeing cruel Russian attacks, alleged war crimes, missile strikes, and other atrocities.
The RT channel (formerly Russia Today) and the Kremlin-funded Sputnik news agency were banned from broadcasting in the European Union a week after the Russian invasion began. Nevertheless, the issue of countering Russian propaganda is still relevant. And now, France and the European Union need to find ways to identify and ban Russian war propaganda outlets fast and more efficiently.