Zelensky calls on French firms Auchan, Renault and Leroy Merlin to leave Russia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on French companies including carmaker Renault, supermarket group Auchan and DIY retailer Leroy Merlin to leave Russia, during an address to the French parliament on Wednesday.

Zelensky calls on French firms Auchan, Renault and Leroy Merlin to leave Russia
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivered a speech by videolink to the French parliament. Photo by Emmanuel DUNAND / AFP

“French companies must quit the Russian market,” Zelensky said during a 15-minute video address to MPs.

“Renault, Auchan, Leroy Merlin and others must stop sponsoring the Russian war machine.

“French companies must stop financing the murder and rape of women and children. Everyone must remember that values are worth more than profits.”

He told his French audience that the war launched by the Russian invasion forces was “against liberté, égalité, fraternité” and said that the city of Mariupol, where some 100,000 civilians are still trapped, “reminds us of the ruins of Verdun”.

He paid tribute to the diplomatic efforts of French president Emmanuel Macron, with whom he speaks regularly on the phone, but called for more military aid.

French lawmakers gave Ukraine and its ambassador to France three standing ovations before the address by Zelensky, who has spoken to parliaments across the Western world in previous weeks in a bid to garner support for his country.

He told MPs: “The Russian army makes no distinction between targets. They destroy residential areas, hospitals, schools, universities.”

“They do not take into account the concepts of war crimes.”

Partly state-owned Renault suspended its production at its plants near Moscow last month after Russia’s invasion but has since reportedly resumed production.

Major French retailers such as Auchan, Leroy Merlin and sports group Decathlon have not followed a boycott of Russia by other top Western brands from McDonalds to Coca-Cola.

French energy giant TotalEnergies, formerly known as Total, has said it will continue to buy Russian gas but will stop purchasing Russian oil and petroleum products by the end of this year.

“I know how to replace this oil and diesel fuel,” CEO Patrick Pouyanne told RTL radio on Wednesday, but “with gas, I don’t know how to do it.” 

Member comments

  1. God, this comic has a big ego. Should be arranging talks with Russia to curtail the conflict, instead of telling countries what to do.

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France proposes getting rid of penalties for ‘minor’ speeding offences

The French government is considering changing speeding laws so that drivers will not lose points on their licence if they are caught going just a few kilometres over the speed limit.

France proposes getting rid of penalties for 'minor' speeding offences

France’s Interior Ministry is considering changing its current rules for minor speeding violations – proposing getting rid of the penalty for drivers who only violate the rule by going just a few kilometres over the speed limit.

The Ministry has not laid out a timeline for when this could come into effect, but they said they are currently in the preliminary stages of studying how the change could be carried out.

“The fine of course remains,” said the Interior Ministry to French daily Le Parisien.

That is to say you can still be fined for going five kilometres over the speed limit, but there might not be any more lost points for driving a couple kilometres over the posted limit. 

READ ALSO These are the offences that can cost you points on your driving licence

Of the 13 million speeding tickets issued each year in France, 58 percent are for speeding violations of less than 5 km per hour over the limit, with many coming from automated radar machines.

How does the current rule work?

The rule itself is already a bit flexible, depending on where the speeding violation occurs.

If the violation happens in an urban area or low-speed zone (under 50 km per hour limit), then it is considered a 4th class offence, which involves a fixed fine of €135. Drivers can also lose a point on their licences as a penalty for this offence. 

Whereas, on highways and high-speed roads, the consequences of speeding by 5 km per hour are less severe. The offence is only considered 3rd class, which means the fixed fine is €68. There is still the possibility of losing a point on your licence, however. 

How do people feel about this?

Pierre Chasseray, a representative from the organisation “40 Millions d’Automobilistes,” thinks the government should do away with all penalties for minor speeding offences, including fines. He told French daily Le Parisien that this is only a “first step.”

Meanwhile, others are concerned that the move to get rid of points-deductions could end up encouraging people to speed, as they’ll think there is no longer any consequence.

To avoid being accused of carelessness, France’s Interior Ministry is also promising to become “firmer” with regards to people who use other people’s licences in order to get out of losing points – say by sending their spouse’s or grandmother’s instead of their own after being caught speeding. The Interior Ministry plans to digitalise license and registration in an effort to combat this. 

Ultimately, if you are worried about running out of points on your licence, there are still ways to recover them.

You can recover your points after six months of driving without committing any other offences, and there are also awareness training courses that allow you to gain your points back. It should be noted, however, that these trainings typically cost between €150 and €250, and they do not allow you to regain more than four points.