Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomed Ms Marine Le Pen, a leading French presidential candidate, to a surprise meeting at the Kremlin yesterday, just hours after the National Front leader called for an end to European Union sanctions against Russia.
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, news website Mediapart reported.
Le Pen's visit comes weeks before the first round of French presidential elections on April 23, although the right-wing leader said her visit had nothing to do with attracting votes.
The French senator agreed pointing out that Putin's meeting with Le Pen does not necessarily show that the Russian president is giving priority to one candidate over another, noting that "it would have been a good thing if other French candidates met with President Putin as well". Her party said that French banks had refused to lend it any money.
"I was one of the few politicians in France, who were defending their own point of view on Ukraine that coincided with that of Russian Federation", she said.
Embracing Le Pen is part of Russia's efforts to reach out to nationalist and anti-globalist forces to build up its influence in the West and help overcome the strains in relations with the USA and the European Union.
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Last month an aide to staunchly pro-Europe French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron accused Russian Federation of trying to derail his campaign by spreading false rumours through state media. "And I think it would be beneficial to exchange".
But given her anti-immigrant views and record of defending French colonialism in Africa, the visit didn't go down well with Chadians.
In an interview past year with CNN, Le Pen said she was left with no choice after French banks turned her down.
"The United States is pursuing the aim of triggering a real war in Europe by arming Ukraine".
Le Pen isn't the only candidate who has taken Russian cash. "A trip to visit the troops...is a traditional thing to build up your commander-in-chief cred", said Martin Michelot, a French election expert at Europeum Research Institute.