Marine Le Pen on the defensive against accusations of Russian influence
After the commission of inquiry devoted to nuclear power, another radioactive subject burst into the National embly on Wednesday. The hearing by the commission of inquiry relating to “political, economic…
After the commission of inquiry devoted to nuclear power, another radioactive subject burst into the National embly on Wednesday. The hearing by the commission of inquiry relating to “political, economic and financial interference by foreign powers” of Marine Le Pen, leader of the RN deputies in the hemicycle. At the center of the discussions, the granting of a loan of up to 9.14 million euros to the National Front in September 2014 by a banking establishment financially linked to Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
The commission was created on the initiative of his own parliamentary group to clear up suspicions of collusion with Moscow. Its media president, the RN deputy for the Somme, Jean-Philippe Tanguy, therefore gave up his place for the sake of fairness. It was finally to the questions of Laurent Esquenet-Goxes, Modem vice-president of the commission, that the former candidate for the Elysee Palace had to answer for nearly four hours of provided exchanges.
Marine Le Pen had already tried to clear herself of any suspicion of interference during the second round debate in the presidential election in 2022: “If I was forced to go and make a loan abroad, it’s because, everyone knows, no French bank wanted to grant me loans, ”she said to Emmanuel Macron.
An argument repeated, almost word for word, in his introductory remarks before the committee – “It is in this context that we were forced and forced to seek a loan outside European borders” – with sometimes a hint of annoyance towards his members.
Offensive, Marine Le Pen has never ceased to denounce “opportunistic and electoralist accusations” even “harmful” of the majority, even if it means playing willingly on the register of political discrimination. “It’s incredible to think that the French government is unable to allow a candidate from a major party to find funding,” she said.
A jeopardy of the resources of her party justifying, according to her, the quest for funding which led the RN to take out a loan abroad. A “strategy of victimization”, denounced at the end of this hearing by Constance Le Grip, Renaissance rapporteur for the commission. But more than the financial balance of the late FN, it was Russian aggression in Ukraine that was at the heart of the deputies’ questions.
After Francois Fillon , the far-right leader had to defend herself from possible rapprochements with Moscow. The former Prime Minister made an impression by declaring before the commission: “If I want to sell rillettes on Red Square, I will sell rillettes on Red Square”.
For her part, Marine Le Pen denied, or pretended to ignore, that the funds came from a bank whose leader was reputed to be close to the Kremlin – claiming an urgent need for financing – and refuted any form of political influence from from Russia.
“The positions of the RN have never varied, neither before nor after the loan, neither before nor after the annexation of Crimea”, she repeated before sketching a surprising parallel between the supposed “pro- Russian” of her movement and the positions, sometimes old, of elected members of the Republicans “much more marked”, according to her, than those of the RN.
Prohibition of political loans
Asked about the pro-Russian activism of certain personalities close to the RN, Marine Le Pen took refuge behind the “freedom” of her own representatives or even the absence of sufficient information. “I sign a loan with a bank, I don’t sign a loan with Vladimir Putin. Otherwise, all of you have signed loans with Macron! “, she pretended to be indignant.
Anxious not to see her presidential stature tarnished, the MP for Pas-de-Calais said she was hurt as a “patriot” to see herself “suspected of being influenced by a foreign nation”. Even if it means declaring, as proof of his good faith: “When I am elected, I will ban foreign loans but I will create this bank of democracy”.
The conclusions of the commission against interference aimed at “renovating our institutions so that they are capable of preventing and preventing such excesses” will have to give rise to a report and will be released at the beginning of June.