According to a parliamentary investigation that will be released on June 5, Marine Le Pen’s far-right party developed a close relationship with the Russian government as both parties steadily converged on policies, geopolitics, and principles.
Le Pen’s Rassemblement National established the committee of inquiry into foreign meddling in French political, economic, and financial life in September 2022, only to use it against her party to investigate its ties to Russia.
However, the research highlights the connections between Russia and Le Pen’s far-right party, formerly known as Front National (now Rassemblement National), as well as a “convergence” with the Kremlin’s stances, according to information revealed to EURACTIV by parliamentary sources close to the subject.
Rassemblement National is “totally aligned with Russian rhetoric,” the paper claims. Le Grip cited Le Pen’s claim of Crimea as “Russian” in defiance of the Western consensus on the subject as evidence that Le Pen and her party share Russia’s position on the peninsula.
Le Pen continued by saying that the committee of inquiry “reiterated during her hearing the official language of Putin’s regime, which take up word for word.”
Le Pen claims that “Crimea is Russian”
In a parliamentary session, the leader of France’s far-right movement, Marine Le Pen, defended her view that Crimea is part of Russia by asserting that its citizens freely supported the referendum that confirmed the region’s commitment to Russia.
According to the research, Le Pen and her party are an “effective transmission belt” for Kremlin propaganda since “Russian press titles were pleased to echo this assertion,” which further demonstrates this.
In 2015, almost a year after the annexation of Crimea by a phoney referendum, the report remembers Le Pen’s opposition to then-president François Hollande’s decision to halt the sale of military equipment.
However, the paper notes “an easing of the pro-Russian position taken by the Rassemblement National and Ms Le Pen” since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Before the war in Ukraine, Rassemblement National officials, notably MEPs Thierry Mariani and Philippe Olivier, visited Russia, the occupied Crimea, and the Donbas.
Former MEP Hélène Laporte, who is currently the vice-president of the French National Assembly, described the 2020 Russian constitutional vote, which allowed President Vladimir Putin to prolong his term in office, as “a lesson in democracy” while on an observation mission.
Russian loan to Le Pen’s party
The committee members focused on whether the Front National’s €9 million loan from a Russian bank in 2014 may have affected the party’s statements throughout the proceedings. Le Pen disputes this, saying she was compelled to look for money outside of Europe.
The rapporteur notes that contrary to custom, the Front National did not issue a guarantee to the lender after reviewing the supporting documentation by Tracfin, the National Committee of Electoral Campaign Accounts, and the economic intelligence agencies. Reorganizing the loan repayment is therefore “definitely and substantially advantageous”.
In addition, the report raises concerns about “the reasons for these loans being granted by Russian institutions to the FN and then to the RN, given that the party has repeatedly demonstrated its support and ties to the Russian authorities.” The statement also draws attention to the votes of RN MEPs that “systematically” supported the pro-Russian stance.
Le Pen criticized “a political trial” and a “dishonest and politicized” report, in which “there is nothing” after the initial leaks to the press, according to AFP. The committee’s RN MPs also cast “against” votes for the report.
In any event, the study makes mention of Russian sway on politicians from several political parties as well as a “privileged” alliance between the Russian government and Le Pen’s RN.
The “strong convergence of views with the Russian government on a certain number of political values and geopolitical issues” is the primary factor that explains this. When Le Pen was appointed head of the FN in 2011, a “strategy of political and ideological rapprochement” that had been “structured and accelerated” was described in the study.
Additionally to the French case, Russia is also charged with meddling in the affairs of other European nations. The only European party to have signed a “collaboration” deal with United Russia, Vladimir Putin’s party, is Matteo Salvini’s far-right party Lega in Italy. Since the investigation is ongoing, it might reveal new details on radical anti-EU parties in Europe with the Kremlin in the coming months.