Russophobe Hack Exposed, or: The Misadventures of Dorothée Olliéric of France-2

So you know how the Western commentariat carries on about how Russia Today fawns over the Kremlin and propagates anti-Western propaganda, while shamelessly peddling itself as a paragon of universal truth and uncompromising objectivity? Welcome to the next installment in the never-ending annals of Western media hypocrisy, brought to you courtesy of Dorothée Olliéric, hack zhurnalizdka extraordinaire of state TV station France 2.

On the morning of August 10, at the height of the Great Russian Heatwave, Olliéric contacted Alexandre Latsa, a Moscow-based French blogger*, through Facebook. “I’m in Moscow again for a few days,” she said,  “I’m looking to interview someone on the failure of the Putin system in this crisis, if possible a blogger who goes to the real news away from Russian state TV, etc”. After a few hours, in response to Latsa’s queries, she clarified that the interview’s purpose would be to link the news on the wildfires and deaths to “explain the failure of Putin’s system” and on how to get access to information in a country where the state “says nothing, hides everything”. She concluded by asking Latsa if he or a Russian friend could participate in an interview.

In the late evening, she asked Latsa if he had received her message and asked him if he could do an interview the next morning on the subject of “bloggers who are looking for true information to report on the crisis and on the failures of the Putin system”. After failing to get a response after a little more than an hour, a seemingly flustered Olliéric wrote, “Well then Alexandre, no longer responding to France 2???”

You can find Latsa’s answer to Olliéric in French, Russian and English at his post France2 – Франс 2 и Я… In my view, this fictionalized response from Olliéric, written by one of the commentators, just about sums it all up: “I’m too lazy and incompetent to do my dirty work myself, so I’m looking for someone who is silly enough to do my dirty work for me and lowly enough to distort the facts to please my editor… If I fail to cook the story his boss wants, I’ll fail to sell it to my editor. And if my stories fail to sell with my editor at France 2, I’ll be outta my job faster than you can say independent western media“.

In the event, the presenter Olliéric had to do most of the cooking herself. On the next day, the day that Latsa’s interview may have been, she was “semi-obsessively repeating the assertion that Putin’s system failed” and (falsely) claiming that the Kremlin wasn’t accepting international aid.**

As I noted in my own post on Russia’s torrid summer, the main reason for the savage wildfires was the unprecedented magnitude of the heatwave, which may have been the most severe to hit Central Eastern Europe in 15,000 years! Barring findings to the contrary by objective researchers – as opposed to the hack journalism purveyed by Dorothée Olliéric or Julia Ioffe (who even found a way to blame the poor Mongols!) – it is not unreasonable to posit that, in general, the Russian state made the best it could out of a bad situation.

Yes, I know. There were many cases of of unresponsive authorities, of information censorship, of outright corruption in saving the homes of rich dacha owners before state property. But consider this from another angle. Why did more than three times fewer Russians die of wildfires than did Australians in their (milder) Black Saturday bushfires last year?

Ultimately, even most Russians themselves – the people, you know, who actually had to live with the wildfires – would disagree with the stories peddled by the Western media about them. The two most attributed causes of the wildfires, according to an opinion poll by Levada, were the unprecedented severity of the heatwave and the Soviet-era policies of draining the peat bogs. And, contrary to the many proclamations floating about last month that the regime’s popularity was crumbling in the heat, the latest approval ratings indicate that the wildfires made nary a dent in the tandem’s political fortunes.

* And latter-day Walter Duranty, if Ukrainian nationalists are to be believed. 😉

** For more on the rigorous standards of French coverage of Russia’s wildfires, see also Le Figaro et la Russie… ou comment des grévistes de la faim sont choisis pour illustrer la canicule.


  1. Regarding Le Figaro you can find an other example, how Pierre Avril didn’t see the new airport at Sochi and the snow…

    Here, Le Monde with Marie Jego, according to her article the president Medvedev never pronounce the word crisis 5th November 2008. But if you check on the official site:
    12 times…

    More recently during the summer’s fire, when most of the French newspapers were still writing about “the refusal of the international aid by the russian” the Governor of Nijni Novgorod great the french crew :
    Not only the russians have accepted the international aid but it was on the main russian medias (RIA Novosti, 1TV)…

  2. A Russophobe maybe. But rather cute nevertheless.

  3. I commented on this story when Latsa posted it (in French), and reprinted his list of international aid already in use by Moscow, accepted or offered, on The Moscow Diaries. It was particularly interesting to see how much money was offered by the Church, and by former Soviet satellites who supposedly loathe Russia.

    Ms Ollieric is not one to let reality spoil a good story.

  4. Giuseppe Flavio says:

    I didn’t know Latsa’s blog before reading this post, so I looked it. Although I don’t speak french, in just 15 minutes I realized Latsa isn’t the kind of blogger that is going to give an anti-Putin interview like that required by Olliéric. He is the kind of person that would expose such a request, as happened.
    It would be interesting to know what Olliéric was thinking when she made her request. Is she too lazy to spend 10 minutes reading Latsa blog, is she dumb, or totally brainwashed ?
    Any idea?

    • Ms. Ollieric is sort of a Francaisey La Russophobe. When she asks for a comment or an article, she’s already mentally got it in the can, in the sense that she knows the conclusions she wants readers to draw from reading it. As you guessed, she wants material that will suggest Putin as Ozymandias, destroyer of worlds, who now lies broken and destroyed himself.

      Personally, I think any journalist needs to have a hell of a nerve to call up a writer (bloggers qualify) and request an article whose content is predetermined by her. Although Alex was absolutely right to refuse her, I can’t think of any blogger who would have done it – not anyone who maintains a shred of impartiality, that is.

      I don’t think she’s dumb – she just wanted the implied legitimacy of her words coming out of the mouth (or keyboard) of an “independent” analyst.

      • Giuseppe Flavio says:

        Thanks for your answer Mark. If I understand correctly, she’s one of those liars that not only believes her lies, but cannot even think that someone else has a different worldview.
        Just out of curiosity, who/what is Ozymandias?

        • Poem “Ozymandias” a sonnet by Percy Bysshe Shelley, a great poem often used as a metaphor for a megalomaniac ruler who regards himself as a god in his own lifetime and builds monuments to himself, but ultimately as the centuries pass both monuments and memory of the ruler decay. Please note the “sneer of cold command” — this really does sound a lot like Putin! 🙂

          I met a traveller from an antique land
          Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
          Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
          Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
          And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command
          Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
          Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
          The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
          And on the pedestal these words appear:
          “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
          Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
          Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
          Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
          The lone and level sands stretch far away.[

  5. Haaaaa .. I dit not saw the link to Walter Durranty ))
    Ha ha ha ha