BFMTV screenshot, retouched by The HuffPost
Alexander Makogonov, a spokesman for the Russian Embassy, regularly conveys the voice of Russia on TV shows, as on BFMTV last October.
PORTRAIT – Czar Alexander II made his own quote attributed to his foreign minister. ” Russia does not sulk, it meditates. This Tuesday, November 8, LCI should comment on the imminent withdrawal of Russian troops from Kherson. And put on makeup, keeping the smile she wears in every interview.
When he was appointed press secretary of the Russian Embassy in France for his third diplomatic mission to Paris since 2006, Alexander Magogonov did not imagine that he would be exposed in the media just months before Vladimir Putin’s army launched an attack on Ukraine. “I am in an unprecedented situation for the spokesperson of the Russian Embassy”, – he says, settling on the terrace of a rice house in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, some distance from the embassy headquarters.
A few minutes ago, when an enthusiastic passer-by ordered a cappuccino, he recognized him and called out: “I’ll be back in a bit, if you have time I’d like to have coffee with you…” Alexander Makogonov comments as his admirer walks away in the direction of the Bois de Boulogne: “The other day someone ran after me on the street to say they saw me on TV. Praise be to God, they are mostly people who do not have an anti-Russian view of the conflict…”
Legitimize Russian discourse
Since February 2022, the spokesman has become the face of Russia in France. But not a sign of admiration, his regular presence in the media – from LCI to BFMTV via RMC or France 2 – the reactions of listeners and franceinfo listeners to the Radio France intermediary or journalists are more disturbing or even angry. work from ukraine, Like Stephane Siohan.
The ability of the diplomat in question to read Kremlin propaganda without blinking “untruths, fake news and disagreement with reality”As concluded by Lucas Aubin, director of research at the Institute for International and Strategic Affairs (Iris) and author. Geopolitics of Russia, published in September 2022 by La Découverte publications. He tirelessly repeats that it is not a Russian occupation “not war”It accuses Kiev of Moscow’s signature strikes or blames Ukraine for the lack of peace talks.
“My duty is not to promote!Makogonov categorically denies. I am conveying the official position of my country so that the truth can be heard and people can form their own opinions. Whether on television, radio, or in the press, I adapt the framework offered to me to the French public. » Illustration a few minutes later to justify Russia’s alleged desire “Protect the Russian-speaking people of Ukraine” face to face a “genocide” Unlike the war crimes committed by the Russian army, it has no basis: “Imagine Brussels revokes French’s official language status and then starts bombing Wallonia. How do you think the French president would react to this? »
Strikes on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure: Russia is “only retaliating”, assures Alexander Makog… https://t.co/MB7M8sBtPX
— BFMTV (@BFMTV)
For Sophie Koeure, a professor of modern history at Paris Cite University, Alexander Magogonov’s presence in the media is special “Legitimate Russian discourse”. “Since the 1920s, Russia’s official and diplomatic channels have been connected by more or less crooked networks of influence. But today, Russia no longer has legitimacy among intellectuals and elites. Therefore, the regime leaves an open channel of action with this telegenic embodiment in accordance with Soviet soft power during detente. [entre 1963 et 1979] », continues the researcher who has just written the foreword free loveRussian Alexandra Kollontaï, the world’s first female ambassador (Les Prouesses publications).
“Sound the alarm 24 hours a day »
“The media strategy of Russia, which lacks RT, especially in Europe, is to occupy the media space using existing channels. In this regard, the spokesperson’s interventions show the effectiveness of this policy to a certain extentLucas Aubin is a lot. Because in the context, one could imagine that he would not have access to the media. » And if at this stage Makogonov’s speech caused little response among the audience, the researcher expresses his concern about the coming months. “The war will stay here. The Kremlin’s claim is that with the onset of winter and rising energy prices, international opinion will split in the West, and then Russia’s discourse will be acceptable. »
Another source of concern, as lecturer Tristan Mendes France pointed out a few weeks ago in a program produced by the information website Conspiracy Watch: people who are not well informed about the conflict can easily be convinced by Alexander Magogonov’s disinformation. “If the audience lacks the elements, the spokesperson is no less credible than the person in front of them. »
BFMTV screenshot, retouched by The HuffPost
Alexander Makogonov, spokesman for the Russian Embassy, regularly conveys the voice of Russia on TV shows, as on November 1 on BFMTV.
As in his media appearances, the diplomat never deviated from the official line during the hour-long interview he gave us. Did we know that Makogonov, who studied at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (Migmo) and then Science Po in Paris as part of a dual course now suspended due to the war, celebrated his 40th birthday in September and lives alone in Paris? . And since the beginning “military operation” This is the case in Ukraine “24 hour alarm bell”. In addition to his media links, he replaces the Russian embassy’s social networks with bellicose statements from the Vladimir Putin regime with excerpts from his own television appearances… and bucolic photos of Russian landscapes. Cartoons with conspiracy undertones or crude shortcuts denying war crimes committed by Moscow are also published by these accounts.
“No French friend has turned his back on me”
“I lead the battle on the information front. I will be able to tell myself that I was where I needed to be during this conflict: on the front lines.he repeats as on televisions. “After the start of the Russian military operation, none of my French friends turned their backs on me”, the diplomat rejoices. Do these friends suspect that Alexander Magogonov’s deeper convictions are more nuanced than his words in front of the cameras? “This is mainly due to their analysis, which coincides with Russia’s position. » As the interview drew to a close, the telegenic spokesperson’s group did not reappear. It solved the problem for a long time.
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