There may be some question whether Russia was behind the hacking attacks on one candidate’s computers or is covertly meddling in some other way in France’s politics. But Senator Richard Burr, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was most likely on target when he said that the Russians are “actively involved in the French elections.” Whether Russia’s efforts are effective is another question; yet another is how to counter them. Moscow’s interest in the election is not hard to understand. France has been a pillar of the European Union, an important member of NATO and pivotal on maintaining sanctions on Russia.
Of the four leading candidates, three would seek closer ties to Russia: Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front, who has received millions in loans from Russian banks and traveled to Moscow last month for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin; François Fillon, the scandal-scarred candidate of the mainstream right; and Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a far-left populist who has lately surged in the polls.
The fourth candidate, Emmanuel Macron, a 39-year-old former economy minister, is strong on maintaining Russian sanctions and favors strengthening the European Union, which Mr. Putin would dearly like to see weakened. Not surprisingly, Mr. Macron’s campaign charges that Russia is spreading fake news about him through its state-funded media, such as RT and Sputnik, including rumors about his sex life.
Full Article: Meddling in the French Election – The New York Times.