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article imageFrench far-right figure Marion Marechal to visit Crimea

By AFP     Apr 4, 2019 in World

The niece of French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, former MP Marion Marechal, will visit the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea this month, furthering her links with Russia, which annexed the territory in 2014.

Marechal, who still commands a wide following despite stepping down from her public role in 2017, will attend the Yalta International Economic Forum on April 18-20, which was set up by Moscow after its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

Both Marechal and Le Pen have argued for closer ties between France and Vladimir Putin's Russia and repeatedly condemned sanctions imposed by the European Union on Moscow over the annexation, which is not recognised by the international community.

Last year, Marechal founded a privately owned political science college in the southeastern French city of Lyon, which promotes conservative teaching on subjects including "cultural identity".

She visited St. Petersburg at the end of March, telling students during a speech there that "Franco-Russian friendship never left me while I was an MP," according to her Twitter account.

Her aunt Le Pen has met Putin several times, including once during the French presidential campaign of 2017, and he has cultivated links with many far-right, anti-EU political movements around Europe.

The European Commission criticised Putin after the election-period meeting with Le Pen for trying to use the far-right to divide Europe.

Marechal, 29, currently holds no electoral office but is widely expected to return to frontline politics at some point.

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