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'Stay out of our election': France sends stern warning to Russia

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'Stay out of our election': France sends stern warning to Russia
Photo: AFP
17:52 CET+01:00
France on Wednesday issued a stern warning to Russia against meddling in its upcoming presidential elections after Emmanuel Macron's team accused Moscow of launching a smear campaign and cyberattacks against the presidential candidate.

"We will not accept any interference whatsoever in our electoral process, whether by Russia or any other state," said Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault in a clear warning that comes after after US intelligence accused Moscow of interfering in that country's vote to boost Donald Trump.

"After what happened in the United States, it is our responsibility to take all steps necessary to ensure that the integrity of our democratic process is fully respected," he told parliament.

Earlier French president François Hollande asked his security cabinet to brief him on the "specific vigilance and protection measures being taken during the electoral campaign, including in the cyber domain", the presidency said in a statement.

Hollande, who is not himself seeking re-election, did not say what kind of threat the two-stage April 23-May 7 presidential election faces, nor did he point the finger at any group or country.

But the call comes in the midst of a furore over Russia's alleged interference in the US campaign that has already forced out one of Trump's top aides.

And this week Emmanuel Macron's team complained that Russia was orchestrating a smear campaign against the candidate through fake news stories as well as accusing Moscow of being behind thousands of cyber attacks against the En Marche! campaign website.

Trump's national security advisor Michael Flynn resigned on Monday after it was revealed that he misled top officials over his contacts with Russia during the campaign.

The revelations have added to suspicions over Russia's role in the election.

US intelligence agencies had already accused Russian intelligence of hacking Democratic Party emails that embarrassed Trump's rival Hillary Clinton.

READ ALSO: Can Russia really derail Emmanuel Macron?

 

With France going into a high-stakes election that could see the country tack sharply to the right, the country's anti-cyberattacks agency, ANSSI, is on high alert.

This week, aides to one of the leading candidates, the staunchly europhile Emmanuel Macron, accused Russia of trying to derail his bid.

Macron's spokesman Benjamin Griveaux on Tuesday accused Moscow of being behind a flurry of cyberattacks over the past month on Macron's campaign website and email servers.

"Half of the attacks, and there are hundreds a day, come from Ukraine, which is known for its links to hackers and people responsible for cyberattacks in Russia," Griveaux said, accusing the Kremlin of trying to boost conservative nominee Francois Fillon and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.

Macron's aides have also accused the state-owned Russia Today (RT) channeland the Sputnik news agency -- both of which have French-language sites -- of waging a "smear campaign" against the 39-year-old former economy minister for reporting allegations about his private life.

Macron, who is married, last week denied rumours of having had a gay affair.

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