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Published in Stream:
Day 869: July 5, 2016
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Russian Official Invites Marine Le Pen To Visit Occupied Crimea
6 years
3 Ukrainian Soldiers Killed, 13 Wounded Yesterday

Following yesterday's reports that French MP Thierry Mariani was planning on returning with another delegation of conservative MPs to Russian-occupied Crimea, a senior Russian official today invited Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right Front National, to visit the peninsula.

The state-owned TASS news agency reports that Admiral Vladimir Komoyedov, chairman of the Duma Defense Committee, invited Le Pen to attend the Navy Day celebrations in Russian-occupied Sevastopol by letter:

"On this day [July 31], guests from all parts of the world will come to Sevastopol. The atmosphere of celebrations goes deeply to the soul of every person," Komoyedov said in a letter to Le Pen, the copy of which was obtained by TASS on Tuesday. "This is an unforgettable day in the life of every person who managed to visit Hero City Sevastopol on Navy Day," he added.

The official invited Le Pen to visit Sevastopol from July 29 to August 2 and promised that she would remember the visit to Crimea.

The admiral continued: "Over the last two years, Europe has discussed the Crimean topic and resulting sanctions. One might get an impression that most European politicians are participating in a global show ‘Who will bite Russia the strongest’." Against this backdrop, Le Pen’s "statement on readiness to recognize Crimea’s reunification with Russia" once again underlines "independence and principles of a real politician," he added.

The irony of a member of the Communist Party extending warm greetings to the leader of a party widely perceived as the ideological heir to the Vichy regime is worth noting.

Le Pen and her party have a close relationship with the Russian government.

The Front National is one of a very small number of European fringe parties to whom the transfer of Russian money can be traced directly:

Russia and Front National: Following the Money

A new leak of the text messages originating from a hacked smartphone of a high-ranking officer of Russia's Presidential Administration sheds further light on the relations between the Russian authorities and their far-right allies in France.

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Jul 05, 2016 14:05 (GMT)

Le Pen herself has made several visits to Moscow and has, disregarding instructions from the French Foreign Ministry, received Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin as a private guest during a visit he made to France in 2014, using a UNESCO event as a loophole to avoid travel restrictions imposed on him by the European Union.

Several of her political allies and a key adviser, Emmanuel Leroy, have become familiar faces in separatist-held Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, pledging their support for the Russian-backed proxy 'Republic.'

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Marine Le Pen's Closest Advisor Comes Out of the Shadows In Donetsk

UNHOLY ALLIANCE The attendance roster for this confab included some familiar pro-Putin faces such as French far-right Member of European Parliament Jean-Luc Schaffhauser, Italian nationalist Alessandro Musolino and German neo-Nazi journalist Manuel Ochsenreiter, who moonlights as Kremlin propaganda channel RT's German "expert" on the Middle East.

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Jul 05, 2016 14:12 (GMT)
Most recently, Le Pen gave an interview to the state propaganda channel RT in which she condemned EU sanctions against Russia and said she would likely recognize Russian jurisdiction over Crimea were she to be elected President:

However Le Pen's invitation to Crimea may well cause some friction with Mariani's party, Les Républicains.

The main opposition party, led by former President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has himself recently made obsequious overtures towards the Kremlin, has been key in pushing through resolutions condemning anti-Russian sanctions in both houses of the French parliament.

But members of Les Républicains are unlikely to want to associate themselves with the extremist Front National, especially with less than a year to go before a presidential election in which the governing Socialist Party is set to face an uphill battle.

It seems unlikely that Mariani and his fellow MPs would be comfortable sharing a stage in Sevastopol with Le Pen.

-- Pierre Vaux