Crimea, Russian loans and the Le Pens: the Kremlin's intriguing SMS messages

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Secret text messages hacked from a senior official at the Kremlin highlight an intriguing coincidence between the Front National's support for the annexation of Crimea and the payment in subsequent months of 11 million euros in Russian bank loans to its president Marine Le Pen and her father Jean-Marie for party funding. SMS messages between two Russians refer to Marine Le Pen's recognition of the results of the Crimean referendum on March 17th, 2014, and the fact that she should be “thanked” in some way for it. The following month Jean-Marie Le Pen's micro party received a 2-million-euro loan from the offshoot of a Russian state bank subsidiary, while in September 2014 the Front National borrowed 9 million euros from the Moscow-based First Czech Russian Bank. Marine Le Pen has dismissed any link between the party's policy on Crimea and the loans. Agathe Duparc, Karl Laske and Marine Turchi investigate.

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The president of France's far-right National Front, Marine Le Pen, is mentioned in several text messages hacked from the mobile phone of a senior Kremlin official, Mediapart can reveal. These texts between two Russians date from March 2014 and refer to contacts between themselves and the FN over the official backing by the far-right French party of Russia's annexation of Crimea. The messages also include a reference to financial discussions.

On March 17th, 2014, Marine Le Pen officially gave her support to the results of the deeply controversial Crimean referendum backing annexation, while her official advisor on international affairs visited the region as an “observer”. In the hacked texts the Russians show their delight at these developments and discuss how to “thank the French” in “one manner or another”. Over the following months Marine Le Pen's FN and her father Jean-Marie Le Pen's micro party received loans from Russian banks totalling 11 million euros for party funding. The coincidence of the timing raises the question of whether the Russian loans were a form of quid pro quo for the FN's position on Crimea - an idea rejected by Marine Le Pen who says she knows neither of the two Russians concerned.