May 20, 2022

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Russian relations chase far-right candidate Le Pen

Russian relations chase far-right candidate Le Pen

France’s far-right National Rally candidate for the 2022 French presidential election, Marine Le Pen.

Chesnot | Getty Images News | Getty Images

France’s nationalist and far-right political party leader Marine Le Pen has seen her momentum stall in the run-up to Sunday’s election due to her past links to… Russia It has reappeared in recent days.

Le Pen took 23.1% of the vote in the first round of the French election on April 10 – she came in second place and secured a place in Sunday’s last run-off against the incumbent. Emmanuel Macronwho received 27.8% of the vote.

The confrontation between Macron and Le Pen is a repeat of the 2017 election, but this time the early polls suggest she has a better chance of defeating him.

But in a major televised debate on Wednesday against Macron, Le Pen was accused of being “dependent” on Russia and political commentators said she failed to deliver any major blows to the French president. a vote On Thursday, he proposed that Macron win the second round with 55% of the vote, with Le Pen receiving 45%.

During her campaign, Le Pen’s team reportedly had to get rid of thousands of campaign flyers that included a picture of her shaking hands with the Russian leader. Russian President Vladimir Putin. Her team said a typo was the reason for the photo being scrapped, not the photo.

“When you talk to Russia, you talk to your banker,” Macron told Le Pen during the two-hour debate on Wednesday, according to the translation. In 2014, Le Pen’s party (the National Front now renamed the National Rally) reportedly requested loans from Russian banks, including from The first Russian-Czech bank A lender said to have ties to the Kremlin. Le Pen denied the accusations on Wednesday, saying: “I am a completely free woman.”

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She added that her team pays out the loans every month and that she only borrows from Russian banks because no French lender will lend money to her party.

Earlier this week, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny In prison since returning to Russia last year after being treated for a poisoning attack, he urged French voters to support Macron and claimed Le Pen was too close to Russia. Macron’s finance minister Bruno Le Maire also warned on Thursday about Le Pen’s policies, telling CNBC’s Charlotte Reed that France would consider withdrawing from Europe if it came first on Sunday.

Mojtaba Rahman, managing director of consultancy Eurasia Group, told CNBC Friday that Le Pen managed to evade scrutiny in the lead-up to the first round of voting, “mainly because the campaign was so short and he was a zealot.” [a far-right politician who also ran in the first round] Make her look more moderate.”

However, he said that the level of media scrutiny in the second round “increased”, including on its relations with Russia.

Le Pen met Russian President Vladimir Putin face to face in 2017 Before the presidential elections that year in France. It has also previously supported some of Russia’s foreign policies, including the decision to invade Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014 – Arguing that it was not illegal because the people of Crimea chose to join Russia in a referendum. Western countries and the Ukrainian government considered voting in 2014 illegal.

Back in 2017, As she told the BBC That the policies you defended were also represented by the former US President Donald Trump And by Putin.

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Earlier this year, as Russia developed its military presence near the border with Ukraine, Le Pen said she considered Moscow an ally of France and that She did not think that Russia wanted to invade Ukraine.

Since the Kremlin invasion, Le Pen has welcomed France’s support for Ukrainian refugees. But she also criticized some of the sanctions imposed on Moscow, arguing that the measures harm French companies and individuals.

In light of Macron’s attack on Le Pen’s financial ties to Putin’s Russia, Alberto Alemanno, professor of European law at HEC Paris Business School, said by email that Wednesday’s debate “will go down in history as a successful attempt to question the legitimacy of Le Pen’s democratic party.”

“This is set to capture the public’s imagination, by inextricably linking the vote with Marine Le Pen to Putin’s Russia. Doing so at the time of the Russian invasion of Ukraine appears to be one of the strongest defenses of Macron’s presidency,” he added.