Report Highlights French Far Right’s Links With Russia

Excerpts from this report by the parliamentary commission of inquiry into foreign interference have leaked in the French media.

Constance Le Grip, deputy of the presidential Renaissance party, insists on the “alignment” of the National Front (FN), which became the National Rally (RN), on the “Russian discourse” at the time of the “illegal annexation” of Crimea in 2014, the year in which the party took out a loan from a Czech-Russian bank.

The RN had itself launched this parliamentary commission of inquiry, precisely to try to cut short the regular accusations of proximity to Russia.

The party “wanted to instrumentalize this commission of inquiry. It is a fiasco for them and it comes back to them in the teeth, ”reacted the ecologist Julien Bayou.

Lepenist elected officials, including committee chairman Jean-Philippe Tanguy, voted against the report, which was ultimately adopted by 11 votes to 5, according to a parliamentary source.

La France Insoumise (LFI, far left) abstained. This shows “at least a guilty casualness” of the RN with regard to Russia, but it is not “exhaustive” on the influence of other states in France, estimates the deputy Aurélien Saintoul (LFI).

In the version of the report presented to deputies on Thursday – it should not be officially published until next week – Constance Le Grip believes that the link between Russia and the first French far-right party is “anchored in the long term”.

But the “strategy of political and ideological rapprochement” with Moscow tends to “structure and accelerate” from the arrival of Marine Le Pen at the head of the party in 2011, points out the report.

It relates the “frequent contacts” between elected FN / RN with Russian officials, as well as the reception of Marine Le Pen by Vladimir Putin on March 24, 2017 in the Kremlin, a few weeks before the first round of the presidential election of 2017.

“Elements of language”

“All his remarks on Crimea, reiterated during his hearing by the commission of inquiry, repeat word for word the official language of the Putin regime”, denounces Constance Le Grip.

She believes, however, that there was a “Attenuation of the pro-Russian positions of the National Rally and Ms. Le Pen”, after the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, “condemned without ambiguity”.

During a press conference in the north of France, Marine Le Pen swept aside the conclusions of Constance Le Grip, denouncing “a political trial”.

“There is nothing, in fact”, she continued, considering that the report was “in the image of the rapporteur, that is to say sectarian, dishonest and completely politicized”.

The RN president of the commission Jean-Philippe Tanguy denounced a “masquerade”. “There is nothing to charge.”

Marine Le Pen was heard on May 24 before this commission. Under oath, she had challenged any political counterpart in exchange for the Russian loan contracted by the former National Front.

“I formally contest having made any decision whatsoever to please anyone”, she explained, arguing that “the arrival or not of a loan has not changed one iota the opinions which were the always ours”.

Former right-wing Prime Minister François Fillon was also heard about his presence on the boards of directors of Russian multinationals, which he left after the invasion of Ukraine.

Former BFMTV journalist Rachid M’Barki, dismissed for serious misconduct, came to explain the suspicions of foreign interference in his work on the channel, which he disputes. An investigation has been opened by the courts.

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