French far-right leader Marine Le Pen to visit Moscow Friday
French far-right leader and presidential candidate Marine Le Pen will on Friday visit Moscow to meet with lawmakers, Russia’s parliament said Thursday.
One month before the French presidential vote, the leader of far-right Front National will meet with the Russian State Duma’s foreign affairs committee, parliamentary spokesman Konstantin Tarasov said.
She will also meet with parliamentary speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, he told AFP.
Her plan to visit Moscow on Friday was confirmed to AFP by her entourage.
Foreign affairs committee head Leonid Slutsky told Russian media Le Pen’s visit stemmed from a “personal invitation”. Her meetings will focus on the “battle against terrorism and questions of French-Russian cooperation,” he said.
Marine Le Pen has visited Moscow on many occasions, enjoying positive Russian state media coverage.
She is among the European politicians who have called for closer ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin and approved of Moscow’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
In 2014, the Front National received a nine-million-euro ($9.7 million) loan from a Russian commercial bank which later collapsed, fuelling suspicions that Le Pen is on the Kremlin’s payroll.
Her party said at the time that French banks had refused to lend it any money.
Moscow has been accused of seeking to promote anti-EU candidates, including populists, in European elections.
Last year, the Kremlin welcomed both the outcome of Britain’s Brexit referendum and the election of Donald Trump as US president.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday said Le Pen was not a “populist” but a “realist or anti-globalist” figure.