French MPs want inquiry into alleged Russian party financing

AFP

Members of the French National Assembly have asked the president of the lower house of the country's parliament to set up an investigation committee to look into alleged Russian financing of political parties.

In a letter to Yael Braun-Pivet, shown to reporters, MPs said the move was prompted by a recent declassification of U.S. intelligence showing Russia had paid hundreds of millions of euros to foreign political parties "with the aim to ... influence elections".

The eight MPs, who belong to French President Emmanuel Macron's En Marche party, also noted that Marine Le Pen's far-right Rassemblement National party is still paying off a loan granted by Russian banks.

"These facts clearly suggest a Russian will to weigh in the French public debate ... they warrant the set-up of an investigation committee to establish if French political parties - and which ones - have benefited from Russian financing," the MPs wrote.

Citing the declassified U.S. intelligence, a senior Biden administration official said on September 13 the United States expects Russia will increasingly turn to covert political financing in coming months to undermine international sanctions over the war in Ukraine and maintain Moscow's influence abroad.

However, the official did not detail which countries the Russian influence efforts were believed to have targeted or provide specific evidence to lay out the claims of secret financing.

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