It seems like Putin made wrong stakes this time, compromising Russia by financing Le Pen family for the past few years.
According to the leaked messages between two Russian politicians, Timur Prokopenko and Konstantin Rykov, in the middle of March Prokopenko was asking Rykov whether he can arrange a visit of Marine Le Pen as an observer during the “referendum” in Crimea.
The next day Rykov replied that Le Pen will not be able to attend due to her party’s municipal election campaign, but she will delegate one of her deputies instead.
On March 16, 2014 Le Pen’s foreign policy advisor at the time, Aymeric Chauprade, attended a referendum on the status of Russia-occupied Crimea as an “observer”.
Later in the same conversation Rykov informed Prokopenko that Le Pen officially recognized Crimea referendum results. Prokopenko replied that it is important to demonstrate the “respect” for French.
Coincidentally, on April 18, 2014, just a month after Chauprade attended the referendum, Le Pen’s family obtains €2 million loan from Vernonsia Holdings Ltd., Russian company based in Cyprus, whose ultimate beneficial owner is considered to be Yuri Kudimov. The company is affiliated with VEB Capital. Kudimov is a close friend of Putin and is known as a former KGB agent who was working as a journalist in London, was suspected of espionage and expelled from UK in 1985. In 2009 he becomes the head of VEB Capital.
Reportedly, Chauprade introduced Jean-Marie Le Pen, the father of Marine Le Pen, to Konstantin Malofeev, who acted as an intermediary in obtaining the loan from Vernonsia Holdings Ltd. Chauprade and Malofeev already met previously in 2013 at anti-LGBT Kremlin event, hosted by Malofeev. Konstantin Malofeev is known in Russia as Christian Orthodox nationalist, who financed Donbass military groups in Ukraine. He is also a chairman of St Basil the Great Charitable Foundation, the largest private foundation in Russia. Similar to Kudimov, he is a part of Putin’s inner circle and sometimes he is called “Putin’s Soros”.
Marine Le Pen personally met Malofeev at the official event in 2014.
Another politician, FN euro-deputy, Jean-Luc Schaffhauser, who previously lived in Russia, reportedly, introduced Le Pen to Alexander Babakov, who was an intermediary in order to arrange previous unofficial meetings of Le Pen and Putin and to obtain the second loan of €9 million. Babakov used to be known as the “poorest” member of State Duma according to the tax declaration provided by him and his wife, yet being one of the richest men in Ukraine and owning a lot of property in France.
Le Pen also met Babakov in February 2014.
Both Babakov and Malofeev are in the list of individuals sanctioned by EU.
In two months after €9 million loan was obtained, Schaffhauser came to “observe” unrecognized elections in East Ukraine occupied regions, held in November 2014. According to the media, Nicolas Lesage, former GUD activist, currently Le Pen’s head of cabinet, was also present.
The loan of €9 million, arranged by Schaffhauser in September 2014 with Babakov as an intermediary, was obtained from First Czech Russian Bank (FCRB), which belonged to Stroytransgaz, owned by Gennadiy Timchenko, one more close friend of Putin since 1990s and his Judo partner.
Currently Timchenko is the only chairman of the Economic Council of Franco-Russian Chamber of Commerce (CCIFR). Up to October 2014 he shared his chairmanship with Christophe de Margerie, Total’s CEO, who was killed in an aircraft crash in Vnukovo-3, Moscow on October 20, 2014.
In June 2016 there was another request made by Le Pen’s team for €3 million loan from one more Russian bank, the Strategy bank. In July 2016 Strategy bank and First Czech Russian Bank lost their licenses. FCRB deputy director was arrested later on suspicion of embezzlement, despite the fact he was appointed as deputy director only two weeks before.
Considering the second round of French Presidential elections coming, how many more Le Pen’s loans will be revealed soon and what would be the interest rate Putin will charge, especially after Marine Le Pen loses the elections next week.
Not the last Russian New Year at Lepen’s “Montretout Mansion”.