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9th Dec 2023

Former French PM to work for Russian oil firm

  • Fillon was a French presidential candidate in 2017 (Photo: UMP)

Former French prime minister François Fillon is preparing to work for a Russian oil firm, in just the latest case of EU-Russia revolving doors.

Fillon, who led the French government between 2007 and 2012, was nominated to join the board of Russian state-owned firm Zarubezhneft, according to a Russian government notice published on Friday (11 June).

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The move has not yet been confirmed and the government notice mentioned other candidates.

It listed Fillon as president of a consulting firm called Apteras.

Zarubezhneft deals with fossil fuel extraction in Algeria, Cuba, and Syria.

Meanwhile, the 67-year old French politician also attended the St Petersburg Economic Forum, a Russian symposium, last week, even though Russia's borders were meant to be closed to French people, French newspaper Le Monde reported.

Fillon called EU sanctions on Russia, imposed over its invasion of Ukraine in 2014, "stupid and illegal" while he was there, Le Monde added.

Meanwhile, his upcoming Russia oil job was vilified by left-wing and liberal French politicians.

"Money ... rots everything, corrupts even the conscience of men", Olivier Faure, the chairman of the French Socialist Party, said.

"Could you imagine general de Gaulle being paid by the Russian state?", Nathalie Loiseau, a French senior MEP in the liberal Renew group in the European Parliament also said, referring to former French leader Charles de Gaulle.

Fillon had, in any case, earlier disgraced himself by embezzling state funds via fake jobs for his relatives - a crime of which he was convicted in 2020.

He also had a track record of verbally attacking EU sanctions on Russia back when he was in still in office as prime minister.

Former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who is now a lobbyist for Russian firm Gazprom, is the best known case of a senior EU politician who went to work for the Kremlin.

But the list also includes several Austrian names, including Austria's ex-chancellors Christian Kern and Wolfgang Schüssel, its ex-foreign minister, Karin Kneissl, and ex-finance minister, Jörg Schelling.

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