Vladimir Putin and Marine Le Pen: The alliance between Russia and the French far right

Days earlier than the second spherical of the French presidential election on Sunday, far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen (Rassemblement National, RN) spelled out a few of her international coverage priorities: restrict navy assist to Ukraine and steer clear from voting new sanctions in opposition to Russia; depart NATO’s built-in command; and relaunch a “strategic rapprochement between NATO and Russia” as quickly as peace between Moscow and Kyiv will be secured.

Amid the battle in Ukraine, Le Pen has needed to soften her pro-Russian rhetoric to remain nearer to the French public opinion. However, she continues to advance a international coverage at odds with most French — and European — politics.

A relationship relationship again to Jean-Marie Le Pen

The causes for this pro-Russian stance are manifold.

The hyperlinks of the Rassemblement National (recognized till 2018 because the Front National, FN) with Russia are long-standing. As early as 1968, Le Pen’s father and president of the get together, Jean-Marie Le Pen, welcomed the Soviet Russian nationalist and antisemitic painter Ilya Glazunov, who had come to Paris as a part of a Soviet delegation within the hope of portray a portrait of Gen. Charles de Gaulle. After the French president declined the provide, Glazunov ended up drawing a portrait of Le Pen himself. The episode would herald the get together’s makes an attempt to current itself as de Gaulle’s pure inheritor in a bid to attach with Russia.

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At an ideological degree, the French Catholic, monarchist and collaborationist proper has all the time held the picture of the everlasting, czarist and Orthodox Russia near coronary heart. Personal ties between the Russian émigré neighborhood and French far proper abound: among the many most notable is the wedding of Jean-François Chiappe (1931-2001), who sat on the FN’s central committee and contributed to the far-right journal Rivarol, to Maria Denikina, daughter of the White Army normal and anti-Bolshevik figurehead of the Russian civil battle, Anton Denikin.

At an ideological degree, the French Catholic, monarchist and collaborationist proper has all the time felt near czarist, Orthodox Russia. Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Jean-Marie Le Pen tried to launch an “international of nationalists” within the Eighties.

In the Eighties, the Russian author and future National-Bolshevik Eduard Limonov launched the eccentric Russian imperialist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky to Jean-Marie Le Pen. The two leaders tried to launch a sort of “international of nationalists,” however their irritable characters and ideological variations would ultimately scupper the challenge.

The then unknown however already well-connected fascist thinker Alexander Dugin interviewed Jean-Marie Le Pen for the main Russian national-conservative newspaper Den’. Former diplomat and KGB chief Vladimir Kryuchkov (1924-2007), who performed a number one position within the August 1991 conservative putsch that tried to overthrow Mikhail Gorbachev, was additionally talked about by Jean-Marie Le Pen as one of many instigators of those first post-Soviet contacts with the French far proper.

Jean-Marie Le Pen (alongside along with his then right-hand man Bruno Gollnisch) visited Russia a number of instances, a minimum of as soon as in 1996 and once more in 2003, whereas figures of the Russian nationalist proper reminiscent of Sergey Baburin have attended FN conferences.

Marine Le Pen’s Russian coming-out

Once Marine Le Pen took over the reins of the FN in 2011, her household’s non-public ties to Russia turned official get together coverage, specifically serving as a guideline within the space of international coverage.

An excellent variety of the individuals then surrounding her, reminiscent of Emmanuel Leroy, Frédéric Châtillon, Jean-Luc Schaffhauser and even her former worldwide adviser, Aymeric Chauprade, boasted shut hyperlinks with Russia.

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The attraction between the FN/RN and Russia is mutual and based mostly on shared values. Key to understanding them is the idea of sovereignty, which incorporates a number of elements:

  • Political and geopolitical sovereignty: The nation-state have to be above worldwide laws and supranational organizations.
  • Economic sovereignty: Economic protectionism is a official instrument in opposition to the destabilizing, corporate-led phenomenon of globalization.
  • Cultural sovereignty: The nation is perceived as a homogeneous, ethnocultural entity the place minorities or immigrants are accepted provided that they comply with assimilate.

Opportunistic motives

The alliance is not simply pushed by shared ideology. When Marine Le Pen turned head of the FN, she sought worldwide recognition in a bid to strengthen her presidential credentials. This included working to safe a gathering with Vladimir Putin, which occurred in March 2017.

Marine Le Pen: “One can’t treat Vladimir Putin with contempt” (INA Politique).

She largely owes her rise to Russia’s highest circles to her household’s ties with the Orthodox and monarchist oligarch Konstantin Malofeev, launched to the Le Pens by Glazunov. Malofeev’s TV channel Tsargrad recurrently portrays Marine Le Pen in a glowing gentle.

The FN was additionally in want of economic assist, and right here once more Russia performed a central position. For her 2017 presidential bid, Marine Le Pen obtained a mortgage of 9 million euros from a financial institution with shut ties to Vladimir Putin. An investigation by the French information web site Mediapart additionally revealed that in 2014 Jean-Marie Le Pen acquired 2 million euros from a Cyprus-based firm managed by a former KGB agent. While Marine Le Pen claimed that it was a mortgage, it stays unpaid, and on the time it was perceived as a reward for the FN’s assist of Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Common pursuits

The Kremlin has lengthy had an curiosity in gaining allies with the potential to behave as an echo chamber for its worldview. France is of explicit curiosity due to the nation’s relative independence from Washington and its standing as a nuclear energy and a everlasting member of the UN Security Council. Major French firms are doing enterprise in Russia and due to this fact inclined to foyer in Moscow’s favor, whereas France enjoys a wealthy Russian cultural scene because of the historical past of Russian emigration.

Is the French far-right candidate too near Moscow? (France 24).

When international coverage beneath President François Hollande (2012-2017) did not play out in Russia’s favor, the Kremlin pivoted towards Marine Le Pen. But Moscow is often extra fair-weather pal than loyal ally. It partly abandoned her within the 2017 presidential marketing campaign when François Fillon (Les Républicains, LR) emerged because the main right-wing candidate. For some time, Russian state TV offered him as a determine able to rallying conservative spiritual and financial circles earlier than swinging again within the route of the RN.

Since then, Marine Le Pen has change into one of many darlings of Russian tv. She is painted as a number one European politician, an genuine patriot, Gaullism’s pure inheritor, and the standard-bearer of the concept of a Europe of countries and of “traditional” values.

A victory by Marine Le Pen in Sunday’s presidential election would clearly be welcome information for Russia. As the brutal battle in Ukraine drags on, the nation’s assist in Europe has dwindled to intolerant democracies reminiscent of Hungary and Serbia.

Based on polling for the ultimate spherical of the election, a victory by the Rassemblement National appears unlikely. But even when Le Pen once more fails in her bid to win the French presidency, her presence and that of a number of different political actors sympathetic to Russia on the fitting and much proper — and with some nuance, on the far left — will assist be sure that Moscow’s views proceed to be mirrored within the French political enviornment.The Conversation

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