French Far-Right Presidential Hopeful Le Pen Strengthens Positions in Run-Off

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"The time has come to defeat globalists", French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen told a rally on Sunday, stating "the European Union will die because the people do not want it anymore".

Potential Russian involvement in western elections has become a more sensitive issue since USA intelligence agencies accused their Russian counterparts of seeking to influence the US election through hacking, something Moscow has denied.

The Russian leader met the French anti-EU and far-right politician in the Kremlin on Friday (24 March), an honour that is normally reserved for foreign heads of state or government. An unconfirmed report this week said that Fillon was paid $54,000 to arrange a meeting between Putin and a Lebanese magnate.

"A new world has emerged in these past years. This is Vladimir Putin's world, Donald Trump's world in the United States, Mr (Narendra) Modi's world in India", she told reporters. "I think he also represents a new vision".

Marine Le Pen has previously stated her approval of Russia's annexation of of Crimea.

Read: Will Vladimir Putin Endorse Marine Le Pen?

"I have always been opposed to these sanctions that I thought were profoundly unfair and utterly counterproductive", she said.

A Russian hackers' collective released emails that appeared to show Le Pen had received loans from a Russian bank in 2014 in return for taking pro-Moscow positions in public.

Russian Federation has offered praise for rightwing and eurosceptic politicians in Europe - with Putin cementing closer ties with Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban, for example, in Budapest last month.

"Of course, it would be very interesting to share our opinions about how our bilateral relations are doing, and about the situation that is developing in Europe", Putin told Le Pen.

But the scandal-tainted Fillon is tanking in polls, while Sarkozy dropped out of the elections, leaving Le Pen as Russia's main potential ally.

Mr de Danne said the Berlin meeting and the Moscow meeting were different because "Macron-Merkel it's the declining establishment, Le Pen and Putin represent the freedom of the people, cooperation in a multi-polar world".

Paris and Moscow should establish a strategic partnership in counterterrorism and energy spheres, and Le Pen called for comprehensive strategic partnership between Paris and Moscow: "First of all, it is necessary to establish cooperation between France and Russian Federation, both in the field of culture, energy and trade".

She said that she had her "own viewpoint on Ukraine, [which is] identical to Russia's".

Le Pen is now running for the French presidency on behalf of the far-right National Front party.

The party on Friday dismissed the possibility of seeking further funding from a Russian bank. Saint-Just said the party had sought financial help from foreign banks, "so why not Russian ones?" The independent candidate would beat Le Pen in May's second round by 61.5 per cent to 38.5 per cent, according to the poll.