French far-right leader backs Russia's Ukraine stance

French far-right leader backs Russia's Ukraine stance

MOSCOW - The leader of France's far-right National Front voiced her support for the federalisation of Ukraine during a visit to Moscow Saturday, Russian news agencies reported.

Marine Le Pen, who is also a European Parliament lawmaker, told the speaker of Russia's lower house Sergei Naryshkin she backed Moscow's call for Ukraine to devolve greater powers to its regions.

The National Front leader also criticised European Union sanctions against Russians including Naryshkin, a member of President Vladimir Putin's United Russia party.

"We consider this decision on federalisation to be quite wise," the RIA Novosti state news agency quoted her as saying in comments translated into Russian.

"I am very surprised that the European Union has now announced a kind of Cold War against Russia, which absolutely doesn't fit with the traditionally friendly relations between our countries.

"I continue to say that sanctions, and even threats of sanctions, are a counterproductive measure." Russia said on Monday authorities in Kiev needed to heed the "legitimate demands" of people in the Russian-speaking eastern regions of Ukraine, where there have been calls for independence from the central authorities.

Le Pen, who also visited Moscow last summer, is not the first European far-right leader to have criticised the EU's stance on Ukraine.

Last month Nigel Farage, leader of Britain's eurosceptic UK Independence Party, accused the EU of having "blood on its hands" for backing protesters who toppled pro-Russian former president Viktor Yanukovych.

Le Pen's National Front won control of 11 towns and more than 1,400 municipal seats nationwide in municipal elections last month.

She is the daughter of the former National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen and has worked to soften the party's image since taking over as leader in 2011.

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