France’s Marine Le Pen urges end to Russia sanctions

French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen (C) and Russian State Duma international affairs committee head Leonid SlutskyImage copyright

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Ms Le Pen is on her fourth visit to Moscow as the Front National leader

France’s far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has called for the lifting of EU sanctions on Russia, during a visit to Moscow.

The National Front (FN) leader called for closer French-Russian ties at a meeting in Russia’s lower house of parliament, the Duma.

She told its speaker sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea were counterproductive, Interfax reported.

It is not clear whether she will meet President Vladimir Putin.

When Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014, the US and EU imposed travel bans and asset freezes on individuals and companies linked to Russia’s ruling elite.

“I believe that barring parliamentarians from speaking to each other, working together is an infringement of democratic rights,” Interfax quoted her as saying in a meeting with Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin.

She vowed to push for the so-called “blacklists” of targeted invidivudals to be abolished.

Ms Le Pen also said that Russia and France should work together to save the world from globalism and Islamic fundamentalism, Interfax said.

Why Moscow welcomes Le Pen – Hugh Schofield, Paris

Marine Le Pen is looked on favourably by Moscow, and the feeling is mutual.

On her visits she has been treated with the kind of respect that few other capitals are prepared to give her.

For populist nationalists like her, Vladimir Putin has the appeal of a strong authoritarian leader who puts interests of country ahead of all else; while for the Russians, she is one of the few political leaders in Europe who approved their take-over of Crimea and wants EU sanctions lifted.

The Russians are believed in Paris to be taking a close interest in the upcoming elections.

Vladimir Putin already has a good relationship with the centre-right candidate Francois Fillon, who also believes French policy should shift towards Moscow. The favourite to win though – the 39 year-old centrist Emmanuel Macron – is more suspicious of Moscow’s designs.

FN Treasurer Wallerand de Saint-Just has said Ms Le Pen’s visit is not a cash-raising exercise, though party members have said they are seeking millions to fund the presidential and later the parliamentary election campaigns, the Associated Press news agency reports.

Recent opinion polls in France put Ms Le Pen neck-and-neck in the first round with centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron, with Mr Macron winning the run-off.

France’s Marine Le Pen urges end to Russia sanctions

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