French far-right politician endorses Crimea vote
Aymeric Chauprade, head of the National Front’s list in Ile-de-France constituency, was an observer at the Crimea referendum on Sunday (16 March).
Contrary to the official approach taken by the EU, he believes the referendum on joining Russia was justified by Russian and Ukrainian history.
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“I think the referendum is legitimate,” he told Russian News Channel RT.
“We are talking about long-term history. We are talking about the Russian people, about the territories of the former USSR.”
Aymeric Chauprade’s entourage initially suggested he went to Crimea as the foreign policy advisor of FN’s leader, Marine Le Pen.
But soon the party denied this was the case. Analysts suggested the about-turn was because the party was scared that it would send the wrong signals before France’s communal elections later this month.
Now Chauprade stresses he was in Crimea primarily as a political scientist and “geopolitician”.
However National Front’s pro-Russia position is neither new nor a secret.
Marine Le Pen has recognised the referendum results, and agrees with the candidate on substance.
Her party regularly accuses both the EU and US of interfering in Ukraine’s political crisis.
In her 2012 presidential campaign, Le Pen called for a “strategic alliance, based on deep military and energy partnership” with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Speaking recently at the European Parliament she said that observers witnessing the legality or conduct of an election was a “normal” occurrence.
As for Chauprade himself, he has long been a controversial figure. He is author of a book – published in 2009 – on the terrorist attacks of September 2001 condemned as “revisionist” by the then French minister of defence.
He was removed from his teaching post at the Collège Interarmées de Défense, a Military Academy College, over the affair – a decision later upheld by an administrative court.