Members of the French National Assembly say they have asked the president of the lower house of parliament to set up a committee to investigate alleged Russian financing of political parties.
In a letter to Yael Braun-Pivet shown to reporters on September 24, deputies said the move was prompted by a recent declassification of U.S. intelligence showing Russia had paid hundreds of millions of dollars to foreign political parties “with the aim to…influence elections.”
The eight lawmakers, 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,” they wrote.
The U.S. State Department said on September 13 that Russia had covertly spent more than $300 million since 2014 on efforts to influence politicians and other officials in more than two dozen countries.
The information followed a review by the U.S. intelligence community of Russia’s efforts to influence other countries’ politics, a senior U.S. official said.
The report does not name specific Russian targets but says Russia likely will increasingly turn to covert political financing to undermine international sanctions over its war in Ukraine.
Russia has not publicly commented on the issue. (Radio Free Europe)