This Wednesday, November 16, took place the launch of a new digital media called Omerta. Defining himself as “100% independent free from any pressure”this new player editorially supported by Régis Le Sommier, former deputy director of Paris Match and former reporter for the Russian online channel RT France, offers investigations and documentaries on geostrategic issues and societal changes. No sooner had it been born than Omerta was the subject of agitated debates, suspected of conveying a pro-Russian line and marked radically on the right. To get to the bottom of it, I attended part of the inaugural party in Paris (and read a lot too).
Not yet online and already targeted by virulent critics. This is how we could summarize the pre-delivery ofomerta who had to face a heavy fire in two times of the daily Release. In a first article in May 2022, Régis Le Sommier is severely tackled for his acquaintances with the sovereign right and anti-Atlanticist close to Bashar El-Assad and Vladimir Poutine. Rebelote on October 13 as the arrival of Omerta looms in the French editorial landscape. This time, the medium is referred to as ” pro-Russian in the information war “. It was enough to set fire to the powder. Faced with pressure from certain activist circles, the team ofomerta had to change the place of its launch three times and operate in the last 48 hours, a real game of hide and seek. So, what atmosphere and what perspectives?
It was ultimately at the Palmeraie, a reception hall adjoining the Aquaboulevard park in the south of Paris, that Omerta was able to welcome nearly 1,000 participants. A place that is not unknown to supporters of the radical right (or even more) since it was also there that Marion Maréchal and Eric Zemmour had organized the Convention of the Right in September 2019 which brought together nationalists and ultra-conservatives under the same tent.
The evening program was rich with the broadcast of three reports on the war in Ukraine on the Russian side, the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan and the societal phenomenon of transsexuality. Of commotion outside, there was none. It was rather a quiet and polite audience that came to watch the launch. With a fairly large presence of neat-looking young people between peter pan collars, lodens and sober suits of law students in Assas, but also more seniors talking wisely among themselves about the deadly missiles that fell in Poland two days ago and the illegal immigration which would be an organized plan. However, no identitarians quick to fight rather than discussion or radicalized Zemmourians on a crusade against the decadence of France (at least not ostensibly).
No particular headliner
In the VIP square (which was entitled to its specific bar while the plebs had to be content with a paid bar), no notoriously known figures from circles that the denigrators quickly linked to Omerta. Apart from Henri Guaino, known for his lack of appetite for NATO, who would later debate on stage with Régis Le Sommier, no strong face as a political symbol came to fill the front rows.
The event opened with the appearance on stage of Régis Le Sommier accompanied by Aïcha Hmissi, a young journalist who worked for LCI and Charles d’Anjou, investor and 100% owner of the new medium. If the speech of the former deputy director of Paris Match essentially focused on the journalistic will of the project and the desire to bring a different voice to various subjects by going into the field, that of Charles d’Anjou was somewhat more offensive by openly evoking an attempt to censor the against Omerta because of the pressure exerted and his desire to set up a “commando” of journalists.
Evidence from the field?
The evening continued with the broadcast of a report by Régis Le Sommier himself in the areas that the Russian army has conquered since April 2022 in Ukraine (and partly lost more recently). The intrinsic interest of the report is that it takes the viewer behind the Russian front line in various towns held by the occupiers (notably Kherson recently liberated by the Ukrainian army). From the outset, the journalistic work of the great reporter has nothing to do with that of the French journalist Anne-Laure Bonnel realized on the Donbass. As much as the latter pulled the hackneyed strings of a Putinian propaganda bordering on the credible by depicting the Ukrainians as licensed murderers of civilians, the report by Régis Le Sommier appears more balanced.
So when he meets local political luminaries like the pro-Russian Ukrainian Kirill Stremoussov (since deceased) or liege men sent from Moscow, his commentary allows himself critical pikes on the clearly propagandist speech which is unrolled to him. The same applies to the soldiers interviewed, whether they are rather fanatical Cossacks from Greater Russia or Muslim soldiers from Dagestan without qualms and idolizing Putin. Unlike Erik Tegnér, a political activist who wants to be a journalist through his online media Black Book (pro-Zemmour above all) who delivers the Kremlin’s argument, the subject is more measured with Régis Le Sommier.
It certainly dwells on the civilians in the occupied areas who suffer from Ukrainian artillery fire and who live in deplorable survival conditions, more or less suggesting that Volodymyr Zelensky’s troops intentionally target civilian targets by relying on the words of certain pro-Russian Russian or Ukrainian soldiers. But without ever biting the white line of propaganda sewn with white thread à la Anne-Laure Bonnel. In the end, the report is instructive, extremely well edited without too many strong effects. At this stage, it is difficult to unearth a patent collusion with Putin’s rhetoric.
Gray areas remain
Could this mean that Omerta was the victim of a bad trial before the hour? In view of the projected report (I was not able to see the other two because of personal constraints), certain questionings may seem a bit excessive but not without foundation for all that. First, there is the editorial positioning of Régis Le Sommier. Both on RT France and on CNews and Europe 1 (media of the Bolloré group whose content we know) where he regularly intervenes as a columnist, his analyzes not devoid of interest (he is someone who goes into the field) do everything the same goes for certain arguments put forward by Putin himself, in particular on the threat that NATO intends to pose to Moscow by voluntarily expanding its sphere of influence towards the East. This is all the same to forget that Putin aroused so much fear in the former Soviet satellites that the latter preferred to shelter under the American umbrella without having their arm twisted.
Another point that should be explored through more advanced digital mapping but which already denotes questionable ideological connections that go beyond the journalistic project. To observe the profiles of subscribers to the Twitter accounts of Omerta and Régis Le Sommier, we notice a preponderant proportion of people openly pro-Russian, sovereignists, radical right, National Rally and Reconquest (Eric Zemmour’s party). It’s hard to believe that it’s only about lost sheep subscribing by mistake or ignorance.
What about Charles of Anjou?
Finally (and this is probably the most suspicious point), there is the role played by Charles d’Anjou within Omerta. Established in Russia for several years, the man is also the adviser of a Russian private security group chaired by a former colonel of the FSB (structure heir to the sinister KGB). This proximity also allows him to serve as a fixer for the French media in Ukraine in areas controlled by the Russians. It is also he who accompanies Régis Le Sommier everywhere in his report. Without forgetting that he was a candidate stamped LR in 2021 in the elections of French advisers abroad (1).
Quite recently, the Letter A published an article (2) indicating that the same Charles d’Anjou was flying to the rescue of another young online media, Livre Noir (mentioned above) whose finances were in bad shape due to political differences between the founders. With Un Erik Tegnèr who remains in charge and holding an assumed pro-Russian line. Always according to Letter Abridges existed between the two young editorial shoots (transfer of personnel in particular and of the operational director of Omerta).
Vigilance before labelling?
Without establishing too rapid a process of intent, we will above all have to observe the evolution of Omerta and its way of dealing with the various subjects that will be offered through its application (available on Google Play and the Apple App Store – for subscribers only). For the moment, we notice on the site contributors like Alexandre de Galzain who also writes for Causeur and the Incorrect with editorial lines clearly marked hard right. Another argument that feeds the idea of marked ideological proximity. Not to mention the laudatory articles of talker and Pointtwo media certainly on the right.
It is always beneficial to see new media being created. This expands the editorial proposal and allows each citizen to have a variety of sources to form an idea on a given subject. On the other hand, it remains to clarify the journalistic proposal that Omerta intends to embody. For the moment and if we trust to the promise displayed on the site, it is a question of rigor and independence. It is up to the young site to prove that its main shareholder, close to Poutinian circles, will only be an actor concerned with dividends and nothing else.
– (1) – “ The underside of Omerta, Régis Le Sommier’s new media – The letter a – October 12, 2022
– (2) – “ From Zemmour to Ukraine, how the identity media Livre Noir imploded – The letter a – November 14, 2022
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