As seen through a Russian television set, the upcoming French elections are the dirtiest in history, a shameful public display of the cronyism and liberal decay that the Kremlin says are tearing Europe apart. “The stakes [of the election] are high, so they’re digging up kompromat on just about everyone,” said Dmitry Kiselyov, the firebrand state television anchor who headlines the country’s premier Sunday night news show. All the main candidates are tainted, he said. At first glance, his assertion makes at least some sense: Financial shenanigans abound. For starters, there is the obvious example of François Fillon, a conservative who had once been the front-runner and is now embroiled in an embarrassing nepotism scandal. His wife and two of his five children are accused of receiving roughly 900,000 euros ($986,000) in public funds for work they did not do.
On Monday in Paris, a defiant Fillon — who nearly 70 percent of voters wish would step down, according to a recent poll — denied any wrongdoing and blamed the media for his troubles.
And Marine Le Pen, the outspoken leader of the far-right National Front party, has been accused
by the European Parliament of spending around 300,000 euros ($322,000) in E.U. funds on her staff instead of on authorized legislative expenses.
Like Fillon, Le Pen has denied any responsibility. “I will not submit to the persecution, a unilateral decision taken by political opponents,” she told Reuters last Tuesday.