Cute photos all over the world: Marine Le Pen cooing to Vladimir Putin. With members of a US election campaign team and several Republicans under investigation of colluding with Russia – is visiting Russia a wise move for a presidential wannabee?
In France, Le Pen’s visit should have set off sirens and mega-alarm bells ringing – to voters. Especially, as she and her family seem to have regularly visited Russia. Especially, as her message is a total, one-hundred-percent identical copy of POTUS’ message to the world: end Russia sanctions. Especially, as her party is seeking financial assistance.
As is to be expected, Russia officially announced: “… it likes her call for EU sanctions imposed on Russia to be scrapped. It likes her claim that “Crimea has always been Russian” and that “there was no Russian invasion of Crimea”. It likes her commitment to forge a strong partnership with Moscow. Which explains why the Kremlin leader took the decision to meet her in Moscow. … There is little doubt Russia would be happy to deal with a President Le Pen.”
English-speaking journalists have asked, but received the “no comment” or “don’t know” rebuff. Yet reports about close ties between le Pen’s party and Russia have been rife. It seems it is not so much a case of liking, but very much one of bank-rolling a party and candidate.
French journalists have discovered the Front National has no problem demanding financial assistance from Russia: “… le FN et Jean-Marie Le Pen avaient obtenu deux prêts russes pour un montant total de 11 millions d’euros. Le parti d’extrême droite avait transmis à Moscou en 2014 une demande portant sur des besoins financiers estimés à 40 millions d’euros, d’ici à 2017.”
So it may well be, Marine Le Pen hobnobbed with her pay-master in Moscow over the weekend. According to La Depeche – which is not the only French paper to mention this – the Front National has stated French banks refused to loan it money. Election campaigns do not come cheap in the US – nor in France.
Uncovering links between Russia and the results of the US 2016 election may be difficult. In the case of the French elections, meddling and collusion may be more obvious. Tracing back the money to its source may be far easier. With Marine le Pen already being investigated over various dodgy financial “arrangements” and her Front National apparently having no qualms asking for Russian “donations” – how rigged are the French elections?