The president of the National Rally and head of the list for the European election, Jordan Bardella, affirmed on Thursday April 4 that “no elected official” from his party “has been approached” by the recently established Russian influence network. exposed in Europe and accused of having paid MEPs to relay Kremlin propaganda. “We must fight against all forms of interference, starting with Russian interference,” declared Mr. Bardella on France 2, stressing that, “in this perfectly incredible affair, parliamentarians are being criticized for having responded to journalists accredited by the European Parliament”.

The scandal arose last week after the Czech intelligence services announced the dismantling of a network financed by Moscow which spread pro-Russian propaganda about Ukraine through the Voice of Europe website. Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo immediately accused Moscow of having “approached MEPs, but also paid to promote Russian propaganda”. The affair very quickly took a political turn, just two months before the European elections and in a Brussels institution already shaken since December 2022 by the so-called “Qatargate” affair, around suspicions of corruption of elected officials involving Qatar and the Morocco.

The leaders of the environmental and liberal groups in the European Parliament have called for the opening of an internal investigation. The head of the Renew group and head of the Macronist list in the June 9 election, Valérie Hayer, notably considered that “voters must know whether MEPs or candidates are working with the support of Russia or its proxies.” “I would like to point out that these parliamentarians who went there, who were interviewed by Voice of Europe, all belong to the European, German and French extreme right,” assured Renew MEP Nathalie Loiseau, without citing of names.

While his party, and in particular some of its members, are regularly accused of complacency or even complicity with Moscow, Jordan Bardella has tried to mark his distance with Russia which “represents a multidimensional threat to Europe and challenges French interests , whether in Europe or Africa”.