Anonymous International released over 40,000 text messages allegedly hacked from a Russian official showing Russia offering a “loan” to France’s National Front (FN) party if the party’s leader, Marine Le Pen, endorsed the annexation of Crimea.
The “loan” first came to light after Mediapart investigated the money. In February, FRANCE 24 reported the massive deposit into the bank. The younger Le Pen justified the money because “no one else will give” her party “a cent.” FN treasurer Wallerand de Saint-Just said the “deal was signed with the Russian lender in September” and it was the first of two payments from Russia. Saint-Just claimed banks did not want to provide the party with any “political parties since former president Nicolas Sarkozy was fined 500,000 euros for undisclosed expenses in his failed presidential bid.”
But apparently there was more to the loan, which Anonymous was more than happy to expose. From The Telegraph:
One was received on March 17 last year from “Kostia,” a figure identified by the opposition group as a governing party MP, Konstantin Rykov.
“Marine Le Pen has officially recognised the results of the referendum in Crimea,” it read.
“She hasn’t betrayed our expectations,” the Kremlin official [internal affairs official Timu Prokopenko] replied.
“It will be necessary to thank the French in one way or another… It’s important,” Kostia said.
“Yes. Super!” the Kremlin official responded.
Le Pen received almost $1 billion from the First Czech-Russian Bank eight months after the annexation. Le Pen denied any such deal and claimed the money stemmed from a “commercial transaction.”
After the annexation, Le Pen recognized the Crimean referendum and applauded the move in remarks carried by Russian media. Her spokesman Ludovic De Danna spoke to Radio VR to announce the decision and his visits to Crimea.
“Our opinion about this is that exactly Crimea is historically part of the Mother Russia since the imperial Russia,” he explained. “And I have been personally from Sevastopol to Kerch for several times in the last year and I felt this deeply inside the population, that they couldn’t express it really politically, but I felt this very strongly inside them, that there was some kind of a dream to go back to the motherland.”
De Danna also lashed out at the Ukrainian parliament for ousting Russian-backed President Viktor Yanukovych. He called the move “illegal” and thus made Crimea’s referendum legitimate.
Le Pen has independently expressed support for Vladimir Putin generally, not just Russia’s actions in Ukraine. On June 1, Le Pen told German magazine Der Spiegel “she admired Vladimir Putin as much as German Chancellor Angela Merkel because the Russian president did not allow other countries to impose decisions on him.” She also visited Moscow before the election in 2014, where she called Putin “a patriot.”