20th May 2022

French MEPs sanctioned for Russia election monitoring trips

  • French far-right MEP Thierry Mariani (Photo: Toms Norde, Valsts kanceleja)
Listen to article

An EU Parliament (EP) body has barred four far-right French MEPs from doing official election-monitoring trips after they took part in missions to Russia in the run-up to its invasion of Ukraine.

The four French MEPs — Nicolas Bay, Hervé Juvin, Jean-Lin Lacapelle, and Thierry Mariani — went to Russia to observe parliamentary elections last September even though there was no formal EP mission to do so.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

They were told that the ban would last until the end of their mandates in 2024.

"We have decided to exclude you from participating in official EP election observation delegations until the end of this parliamentary term," said the parliament's Democracy Support and Election Coordination Group (DEG), in letters dated 3 March.

In a joint statement to EUobserver on Friday (4 March), three of the sanctioned French MEPs — Juvin, Lacapelle, and Mariani — called the decision "iniquitous" and complained that the chamber had imposed a "drastic reduction of the rights of parliamentarians."

They said they were considering an appeal against the sanction, but that the appeals procedure was unclear.

Excluding members "who unofficially observed the 2021 elections in Russia, is fully in line with our procedures," said David McAllister, a centre-right MEP from Germany who chairs the parliament foreign affairs committee and co-chairs the DEG.

Juvin, Lacapelle, and Mariani are members of the Rassemblement National party of Marine Le Pen, who is competing in French presidential elections next month. Bay, who was also sanctioned, came from the party of another French far-right presidential contender Eric Zemmour.

Apart from the French MEPs, two other lawmakers also faced a ban: Gunnar Beck, a German from the German far-right AfD party, and a Slovak, Miroslav Radačovský, who is a former judge and not a member of any party.

Radačovský told EUobserver on Friday that he observed elections in Ufa, a southern Russian city, last year.

He also told EUobserver his flights and accommodation had been paid for by the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation, a state offshoot, but that he had openly declared this to the EP.

He called the DEG sanctions a "big mistake" and said that he opposed Russia's war.

Bay and Beck did not reply to questions.

The war in Ukraine showed it was "high time" for the EU's and national-level parliaments to take election-monitoring abuse more seriously, said Stefanie Schiffer, the head of a Berlin-based NGO called the European Platform for Democratic Elections, which tracks fake election-monitors across Europe.

Bogus election monitoring trips "are a recruitment opportunity for the Russians," said Anton Shekhovtsov, the director of Vienna-based NGO the Centre for Democratic Integrity.

It is important to combat disinformation at all times," said Tomas Tobé, a Swedish centre-right MEP who co-chairs the DEG. "Trustworthy international election observation is part of that," he said.

What happened was "especially reprehensible since these cases are about Russia," Tobé added.

Political groups shun far-right pro-Kremlin MEP

French MEP Thierry Mariani from the far-right Identity and Democracy Group is spearheading a report in the parliament's foreign affairs committee. The socialists are boycotting it.

French voters urged to shun Le Pen in run-off

Several failed candidates in French elections have urged their voters to back president Emmanuel Macron in the second round to keep out far-right contender Marine Le Pen.


Ultraconservatives in Putin's shadow

Vladimir Putin's Ukraine war has threatened to be a public relations disaster for hard-right gatherings like the Conservative Political Action Conference — now meeting in Budapest and featuring Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán, who remains highly-cordial with the Kremlin.


Will 'Putin's Nato' follow Warsaw Pact into obscurity?

Valdimir Putin's equivalent to Nato — the Collective Security Treaty Organization of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Armenia, Tajikistan, and Belarus — is convening in Moscow next week to give cover that Russia is not alone in its war against Ukraine.

News in Brief

  1. Half of Gazprom's clients have opened rouble accounts
  2. Macron seeks 'quick' EU answer on Moldova application
  3. German chancellor to tour Western Balkans
  4. UN: more than 8,000 civilians killed or injured in Ukraine
  5. EU agrees new minimum gas storage target
  6. EU justice agency to have more roles on war crimes
  7. More than 50,000 Ukrainians refused entry into EU in 2021
  8. Germany open to EU treaty change 'if required'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. MEPs urge sanctioning the likes of ex-chancellor Schröder
  2. MEPs call for a more forceful EU response to Kremlin gas cut
  3. Catalan leader slams Pegasus use: 'Perhaps I'm still spied on'
  4. More EU teams needed to prosecute Ukraine war crimes
  5. French EU presidency struggling on asylum reforms
  6. EU states warn of looming food-price crisis
  7. Ultraconservatives in Putin's shadow
  8. Nordic Bridges unveil latest highlights of Spring programme

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us