The flagging, scandal-plagued presidential campaign of François Fillon — a former prime minister of France much liked by the Kremlin but not so much, it seems, by French voters — received a surprise lift late last month with a report that he had staged a remarkable recovery in opinion polls and was now leading the pack ahead of voting this Sunday. “The Return of Fillon to the Head of Opinion Polls,” declared the bold headline, contradicting other French polls suggesting that the onetime favorite had fallen to third or even fourth place as he battled corruption charges. As it happens, Mr. Fillon’s lead in the polls existed only in a world of alternative facts shared by the French-language service of Sputnik, a state-funded Russian news operation with the motto “Telling the Untold.” For weeks, Sputnik and a second Russian outfit, the new French-language arm of RT, a Kremlin-funded television station, have published reports that critics characterized as “Telling the Untrue” but that fans welcomed as a breath of contrarian fresh air.”
The broader question as France charges toward the first round of the presidential election on Sunday, however, is what exactly lies behind what looks to many, particularly supporters of the liberal front-runner, Emmanuel Macron, like a replay of Russia’s interference in the presidential election in the United States last year.
Is Moscow meddling covertly, as American intelligence agencies say it did before Donald J. Trump’s victory? Or is it just benefiting from a network of politicians, journalists and others in France who share the Kremlin’s views on politics there, and much else besides?
Full Article: It’s France’s Turn to Worry About Election Meddling by Russia – The New York Times.