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POLITICS

Putin congratulates Macron on French elections and wishes him ‘success’

Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated French President Emmanuel Macron on his re-election and defeat of far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, the Kremlin said Monday, as tensions remain over the Ukraine conflict.

Putin congratulates Macron on French elections and wishes him 'success'
French President Emmanuel Macron talks to Russian President Vladimir Putin (Photo by Michel Euler / POOL / AFP)

“I sincerely wish you success in your state activities, as well as good health and well-being,” Putin said in a telegram to Macron, according to a statement from the Kremlin.

Macron was one of the few Western leaders to contact Putin since Moscow moved troops into Ukraine, spending hours on telephone calls trying to negotiate a resolution to the conflict.

But while keeping its diplomatic channels to Moscow open, France under Macron has joined the barrage of international sanctions on Russia imposed over the military campaign.

Macron secured a victory over Le Pen in a second round of voting over the weekend, defeating his far-right rival who was accused of links to Russia.

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POLITICS

Prosecutors: No new rape inquiry for France’s disabilities minister

France's disabilities minister will not face a new inquiry "as things stand" over a rape allegation that surfaced just after his nomination by President Emmanuel Macron last week, prosecutors have said, citing the anonymity of the alleged victim.

Prosecutors: No new rape inquiry for France's disabilities minister

Damien Abad has faced growing pressure to resign after the news website Mediapart reported the assault claims by two women dating from over a decade ago, which he has denied.

One of the women, identified only by her first name, Margaux, filed a rape complaint in 2017 that was later dismissed by prosecutors.

The other woman, known only as Chloe, told Mediapart that in 2010 she had blacked out after accepting a glass of champagne from Abad at a bar in Paris, and woke up in her underwear in pain with him in a hotel room. She believes she may have been drugged.

She did not file an official complaint, but the Paris prosecutors’ office said it was looking into the case after being informed by the Observatory of Sexist and Sexual Violence in Politics, a group formed by members of France’s MeToo movement.

“As things stand, the Paris prosecutors’ office is not following up on the letter” from the observatory, it said, citing “the inability to identify the victim of the alleged acts and therefore the impossibility of proceeding to a hearing.”

In cases of sexual assault against adults, Paris prosecutors can open an inquiry only if an official complaint is made, meaning the victim must give their identity.

Abad has rejected the calls to resign in order to ensure the new government’s “exemplarity,” saying that he is innocent and that his own condition of arthrogryposis, which limits the movement of his joints, means sexual relations can occur only with the help of a partner.

The appointment of Abad as minister for solidarities and people with disabilities in a reshuffle last Friday was seen as a major coup for Macron, as the 42-year-old had defected from the right-wing opposition.

The new prime minister, Elisabeth Borne, said she was unaware of the allegations before Abad’s nomination, but insisted that “If there is new information, if a new complaint is filed, we will draw all the consequences.”

The claims could loom large over parliamentary elections next month, when Macron is hoping to secure a solid majority for his reformist agenda. Abad will be standing for re-election in the Ain department north of Lyon.

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