Over the weekend, hackers released thousands of text messages which they claim show correspondence between the Kremlin and Marine Le Pen’s French far-right party, the Front National. The leaks appear to be a smoking gun showing that she and her party may have gone so far as to accept money in exchange for supporting Russia’s annexation of Crimea. The Independent has more:
When the National Front received a 9m euro loan in November last year from the First Czech-Russian Bank, she insisted that this was purely a commercial transaction and had no link with her frequent expressions of support and admiration for Vladimir Putin.Text messages published today by the French news website Mediapart suggested otherwise. The messages were among 1,187 pages of texts sent and received by Timur Prokopenko, head of the Kremlin internal affairs department, which were hacked and published earlier this week by an opposition group called “Anonymous International”.They included texts concerning Marine Le Pen and the referendum in the Russian-annexed Crimea.On 17 March last year, “Kostia”, believed to be a pro-Putin Russian exile in the south of France, reported to the Kremlin: “Marine Le Pen has officially recognised the results (of the referendum) in Crimea”The senior Kremlin official replied: “She has not betrayed out expectations.”Kostia said: “We must, in one way or another, thank the French. It is importrant.”The Kremlin: “ Yes. Super!”Eight months later the FN received the Euros 9m loan which is expected to be the first tranche of a series of Russian payments which will fund the cash-strapped far right party up to the French presidential election in 2017.
The loans would be especially attractive to the Front National, since it failed to secure a loan from French banks before the Russians stepped in.
Le Pen, who not long ago came out on top of a poll for the most popular contenders for the French presidency in the upcoming race, has suffered several setbacks in recent days. She has had to deal with the borderline holocaust-denying rambling of her famous father, from whom she inherited control of the FN. And, the party failed to meet high expectations in recent local elections, though it did make some gains.
But neo-Nazi grumblings and and capricious public support are old hat for the Front National. If this leak can prove that she has put France’s foreign policy up for sale, the scandal could have huge ramifications for the electoral prospects of one of Europe’s top far-right parties.