The French presidency’s Defense Council’s next meeting will deal with the threat of Russian hacking in France’s upcoming presidential elections this Spring, Politico quoted the French weekly Le Canard Enchainé as reporting Wednesday.
The meeting, which will include French President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, as well as the ministers for defense, interior, foreign affairs, finance and the budget, will focus on Russian attempts to sway the election using disinformation campaigns and trolling on social media, as well as hacking attacks.
French intelligence officials believe that Russia is working behind the scenes to support presidential candidate Marine Le Pen of the far-right National Front party, according to the Le Canard Enchainé report cited by Politico.
Le Pen is currently leading in polls for the first round of voting in April, but is expected to lose in May’s runoff between the first round’s two leading vote-getters.
Concerns of Russian interference in the French presidential race follow assessments by leading US intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the 2016 US presidential race in favor of the Republican candidate, current President Donald Trump.
The intelligence agencies believe that the Russian hacking was ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Le Pen has previously made a number of comments in support of Putin and his policies. In recent interviews, she has described Russia’s invasion and subsequent annexation of the Crimean Peninsula as legitimate, despite Western refusal to recognize the move and imposition of sanctions.
Her National Front party also received a $9.8 million loan from a Russian bank with ties to the Kremlin. Le Pen has denied that this financial support has influenced her party’s support of Russia, saying her well known respect for Putin began before the receipt of the funds.