TV duel in France
Millions in loans for Le Pen’s parties: why Macron accuses her of being dependent on Putin
In the TV duel before the runoff between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, the French President accused his challenger of being too close to Vladimir Putin. This is mainly due to Russian loans in the millions.
A few days before the runoff election in France, President Emmanuel Macron accused his right-wing populist challenger Marine Le Pen of “dependence” on Russia. “When you talk about Russia, you’re talking about your donor,” Macron said on Wednesday in the first and last televised debate between the two presidential candidates.
In view of the Russian attack on Ukraine, Macron raised a serious allegation against his challenger: “You depend on Russia and the Russian President,” said Macron – and alluded to loans of more than eleven million euros that Le Pen, among other things received from a Russian-Czech bank close to the Kremlin.
Marine Le Pen admires Putin
In fact, Le Pen already had one in October 2011 Interview with the Russian daily newspaper “Kommersant” said: “But I admit and I do not hide that I admire Vladimir Putin to a certain extent.” Even then, she advocated closer cooperation with Russia: “I’ve been saying for a long time that we need to develop relations with Moscow.” The Russian Parliament received Le Pen for the first time in 2013, and Le Pen continued to visit the Duma in the two years that followed.
In October 2015, Le Pen commented on Putin’s military intervention in Syria Interview with “Europe 1”: “These doubts expressed about the Russian air strikes, like the investigation launched in France, are helping to undermine the credibility of the action led by Vladimir Putin. France should have done what Russia is doing now.”
No problem with the Crimean annexation
On the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 said Le Pen in January 2017: “I absolutely do not believe that there was an illegal annexation of Crimea: there was a referendum, the residents wanted to join Russia.” A good two months after this statement, Vladimir Putin received the French politician for the first time in the Kremlin.
In early February, Le Pen gave up the British BBC an interview, in which she claimed: “France should have continued to maintain diplomatic, economic and cultural ties with Vladimir Putin’s Russia while equidistant from the US and Russia.” In the interview, she criticizes the sanctions against Russia on the one hand and defends Ukraine’s sovereignty on the other. Above all, she says: “I don’t believe at all that Russia wants to invade Ukraine.” Two weeks later, Le Pen had to realize that she was wrong.
Uncritical because of loans from Russia?
With a view to the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, she said in the TV duel on Wednesday evening that she supports Ukraine that is independent of the USA, the EU and Russia.
Macron’s main allegation that Le Pen is close to Russia is aimed at something other than the politician’s pro-Putin statements. Le Pen’s party “was able to find financial support in Russia, which it often lacked in France because banks were reluctant to lend money to the far-right,” writes “Le Monde”. Specifically, the newspaper lists loans totaling 11.4 million euros that Le Pen’s parties are said to have received from Russian sources.
- April 2014: Le Pen’s micro-party Cotelec receives a loan of two million euros by an obscure Cypriot offshore company believed to be owned by the then head of the Russian State Bank. The then “Front National” and thus today’s “Rassemblement National” borrowed some of the money and financed its presidential election campaign in 2017.
- Also in 2014, Le Pen’s party received a loan of 9.4 million euros at the “First Czech Russian Bank” to fund the campaign for the 2015 regional and departmental elections.
According to hacked conversations recorded in April 2015 by “Mediapart.fr” uncovered, Kremlin officials wondered how Marine Le Pen should be “thanked” for her support of the 2014 annexation of Crimea. Marine Le Pen herself dismisses the links between her stance on Russia and these financial concessions.
In the TV duel, Le Pen also described Macron’s allegations as “false and dishonest”. Her party took out the loan “because no French bank wanted to give me a loan.” She is an “absolutely and completely free woman”.