French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron's party chief said Macron is being targeted by Russian media and Internet attacks with the goal of helping the election campaigns of his pro-Moscow rivals.
The charges by Richard Ferrand, secretary-general of Macron's En Marche party, on February 13 marked the first direct accusation from a French political party that forces in Russia were trying to influence the outcome of the May election.
Ferrand, who said Moscow looked favorably on the policies of far-right leader Marine Le Pen and center-right candidate Francois Fillon, urged the government to take steps to ensure there was no "foreign meddling" in the election.
Drawing a parallel with the U.S. presidential election in which U.S. intelligence agencies saw the hand of the Kremlin last year, he said: "The Americans saw it, but it came too late."
Ferrand told France 2 television that Russian media like RT and Sputnik are targeting him because he is in favor of the European Union. They have published "fake news" stories saying Macron is a puppet of U.S. elites, for example, he said.
Macron, an independent centrist, has been tipped to win the May 7 second-round against Le Pen, who is anti-EU and supports Russian policy on Ukraine.
Based on reporting by AP and Reuters