France's Marine Le Pen begins Russian Federation visit

Vladimir Putin is said to have wished Marine Le Pen "good luck" in a surprise meeting between the Russian president and the French far-Right leader a month before she runs in presidential elections.

The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, on Thursday also said it was "fictional" to think Russia wanted to interfere in the French vote, before praising Le Pen as a "realist or anti-globalist" figure. In the same year, party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen's political fund Cotelec received another 2-million-euro loan from a Russian-backed fund based in Cyprus, the news website Mediapart reported.

Ludovic de Danne, Ms Le Pen's global advisor who took part in the meeting with Mr Putin, said: "He wished her good luck".

The Russian leader stressed that the Kremlin does not meddle in French politics.

Putin told Le Pen that she represented "quite a fast-growing element of European political forces".

Le Pen was in Russian Federation at the invitation of Leonid Slutsky, head of the State Duma's foreign affairs committee, who called her visit "courageous".

Le Pen travelled to Moscow at the invitation of an MP for meetings in the Russian parliament, and had not been expected to meet Putin.

On her trip to Moscow, she reiterated that stance, calling the sanctions "counterproductive".

Before her meeting with Putin, Le Pen spoke to Russia's parliamentary speaker, Vyacheslav Volodin, and said she supported close cooperation between the two countries.

Peskov told reporters that Putin's meeting with Le Pen and his encounters with other representatives of foreign opposition forces were "normal practice".

After the meeting she said that one of her first actions if she wins will be to look at "swiftly" ending European Union sanctions imposed on Russian Federation over the Ukraine crisis.

French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen sought to reassure voters concerned over her plans to withdraw France from the euro zone. An unconfirmed report this week said Fillon was paid 50,000 euros ($54,000) to arrange a meeting between Putin and a Lebanese magnate, a claim rejected by the Kremlin as "fake news".

The publicly-declared objective of Ms Le Pen's visit was to meet members of the Russian parliament.

"We have seen how intensively they have played the Russian theme in the USA presidential campaign, and we now can see Le Pen's rivals trying to exploit this theme in the French campaign", she said.

  • Leroy Wright