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French Presidential Front-Runner Macron Claims Russia Interfering In Election

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron
French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron

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

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