Leo Nicolian is a Lebanese-French war reporter from Armenian origins who covered numerous conflicts like in Iraq and Chechnya. This time, he is actively defending and participating in the Lebanese revolution, not just reporting it.
So far, he has had a big role, protesting, confronting politicians, doing interviews, etc. More so, he’s as enthusiastic and driven as any other Lebanese protester, and is willing to cross any limit to show his support.
Leo is also the spokesperson for the Coordination Council of the Lebanese in France (CCLF), a collective created at the start of the revolution. While doing an interview during one of the protests in solidarity with Lebanon in France, on October 27th, he gave the following statement:
“We are here to show our compatriots that we are with them. This a revolution, not a demonstration. We are tired of being led by warlords who have held the whole country in their hands since the end of the civil war. It is the first time that the Lebanese people are all united.”
He added: “There are around 280,000 Lebanese who live in France permanently. France cannot remain only a spectator. It has a moral duty to help all the Lebanese people and to grant them a real Republic.”
During an interview with RT France inviting him to comment on the protests in Lebanon, he showed up wearing a Thawra armband. In this interview, he also gave credit to the Armenian-Lebanese population for being an essential part of the revolution.
He also gave credit to all Lebanese people, who finally woke up and revolted against a corrupt regime made of criminals and mafias. He also issued that all the authority’s attempts to negotiate or gain the trust of the Lebanese people, in the country or abroad, will not succeed, because “now it’s too late.”
Leo, once again, insisted that the people be called revolutionaries, not demonstrators, stressing the importance of France’s role and its duty towards the Lebanese people, not the politicians. He strongly hoped to see the French president, Emmanuel Macron, play this role effectively and firmly.
During this protest, he spoke to Al-Jadeed TV covering the event. He said that the “Lebanese politicians are Lebanon’s enemies” and that they alone are responsible for the country’s deterioration.
His focus soon shifted towards the French politicians after an exchange he had as a journalist with Macron in Amiens on November 22 (Lebanon’s 76 anniversary of independence).
During that brief interview, Nicolian asked the French president his opinion about the Lebanese events. Macron responded: “We will celebrate next year the proclamation of Greater Lebanon in 1920” created by the French mandate, adding “which is very important.”
The journalist replied that it would also be the anniversary of the establishment of confessionalism, so decried by the demonstrators; they see it as the main reason for the misfortunes of their homeland. “Exactly,” replied the head of the French state before leaving.
Another one of the reasons behind this confrontation is the fact that Elysee has recently given instructions to AFP not to publish Macron’s statement regarding the Lebanese revolution. The same statement that Macron gave Nicolian in Amiens.
But Nicolian wasn’t done just yet, there’s another person to whom he wanted to give a piece of his mind, that is the Lebanese ambassador in France, Rami Adwan.
This confrontation happened at the same place in time as Macron’s when the ambassador was getting ready to leave on his bike.
He asked Ambassador Adwan what he thinks of the Lebanese revolting against the authority, Kellon Yaane Kellon, as he put it, including Lebanese President Michel Aoun.
Leo also reproached the ambassador for his lack of support to the Lebanese people, who were shot in the eyes with rubber bullets. The ambassador refused to engage and insisted on leaving.
“Shame on you!” Nicolian yelled as the ambassador rode off. He said after, “This is the one who represents the dictatorial country that is Lebanon, “a person who stays silent when his people have been revolting for the past three months.”
He went on saying, “The Lebanese people have been suffering from corruption, theft, lack of electricity and water, crime, and from being led by a mafia for the last 30 years. This is the same mafia who committed slaughter during the Civil War, and who is now committing a crime by stealing public money.”
“All the while, the French president says that France is friends with Lebanon, yet the state is doing nothing and saying nothing,” Nicolian stated.
“Yes, French citizens are friends with Lebanese citizens, but the French government is related to the corrupt Lebanese government.”
It is important to bring attention to the ambassador Rami Adwan’s method of transportation. Though judged by Nicolian for supporting a corrupt government, Adwan isn’t spending public money on expensive cars like many, if not all, Lebanese politicians.
He actually uses a bike to ride around in Paris, and reportedly drives an old Citroen when in Lebanon, doesn’t have a driver at his service, and doesn’t go around with bodyguards or convoys.
It is also very important to point out that Lebanese embassies and consulates, in general, have been neutral during this revolution, continuing serving the people without issue or politics.
As for Leo Nicolian, he has gained fame and praises in Lebanon for his strong bold voice in support of the Lebanese people during this revolution, and their need for a better country and a non-dysfunctional government.