It appears, someone now has to put out that massive fire of scandals raging around Russia's military intelligence over the past weeks, months, or even years. That's part of the Russian tradition to employ "information firemen" from abroad, in addition to own talking heads, to poor some cool water on the hottest spots or spin necessary narratives.
This is by no means a rare occurrence as the Russian propaganda machine regularly resorts to the services of such freelancers in various occasions. The breaking story of the GRU spy base in French Alps was no exception.
These days, Russian media, which we know are often affiliated with security and intelligence agencies, are increasingly promoting an interview with Alain Rodier, presented as a retired senior officer with the French intelligence, now deputy chief of CF2R, the French Center for Intelligence Research, an expert on Islamic terrorism and organized crime.
This retiree in his comments for Atlantico, a popular French-based online publication, claims that that the report on Russian spies in Haute-Savoie is more like an old James Bond movie, which has nothing to do with reality.
Well, maybe it is the case, and a high-ranking French intelligence officer, albeit retired, knows better. But here's a thing: the original comments published by Atlantico have not a single weighty argument or evidence to back a claim that no GRU base has actually existed in French mountains.
In fact, what the French expert does is offers some vague phrased and claims of nonsense, paranoia and "no traces" of the spy group activity in France. Come on, an intelligence pundit covering a serious topic, trying to be funny and witty instead of providing a single factual evidence to prove his point? I'm not buying it, sorry.
However, the article by Alain Rodier, published on Atlantico on December 9, which, as I'm writing this, has collected just 14 Facebook shares and another eight on Twitter, is becoming the most widely spun piece in the gray information segment of Ru-net.
But there's more.
Not so long ago, in June of this year, I already spoke about a French "ex-intelligence officer", Paul Barril, 73, a favorite of the Russian media, who claimed that Donbas warlord Alexander Zakharchenko had been assassinated by Ukraine's military intel specops unit, trained by U.S. instructors.
Back then, I easily discovered the nasty truth about the past of the retiree whom Russian propaganda calls a "military intelligence" operative. He's no hero in France but merely an infamous war criminal, accused of genocide during the civil war in Rwanda, as well as participating in shady corruption schemes and criminal groups.
However, this never stopped the old guy, who has nothing to do with intelligence and suffers from Parkinson's syndrom, from giving anti-Ukrainian interviews to Russian highly dubious news sites, for some extra cash, of course.
With Alain Rodier, things turned out to be much more complicated. His piece allows concluding that he is clearly a graphomaniac, playing and manipulating people's emotions (quite successfully, I must admit). In turn, his main platform is Atlantico, while numerous Russian sites of the "grey segment" just pick up on the original report.
That is, the "retired senior French intelligence officer" isn't really too popular in local media… How so?
As for the French Center for Intelligence Research (CF2R), whose deputy director the author supposedly is, any of their research pieces mentioning Russia, in any context whatsoever, ranging from espionage ad cyber to Syrian issues, can be noted for an openly pro-Russian stance in the criticism of what they call "unfounded" accusations, voiced by the West (especially the U.S.) against the Kremlin.
Even given the minimum of information available in open sources about the author, his works tell of Rodier's extreme subjectivity in his research. Meanwhile French security agencies should keep an eye on the "French Center for Intelligence Research" and take a good look at their activities. After all, it's Russian intelligence services who traditionally give the organizations they control some loud and pretentious names, which almost always include words like "center", "research", "analytical", etc.
But, most importantly, the very fact of this "talking head" was "activated" and put into a spotlight from oblivion testifies to the fact the Alpine spy base report is truly an information blaze that the GRU is scrambling to put out as soon as possible.