Ukraine threatens to blacklist France′s Le Pen over Crimea remarks | Europe | News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 04.01.2017

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Ukraine threatens to blacklist France's Le Pen over Crimea remarks

Kyiv has warned French presidential hopeful Marine Le Pen of consequences for undermining Ukraine's "sovereignty and territorial integrity." The far-right leader claimed Crimean citizens "wanted to join Russia."

Ukraine's Foreign Ministry on Wednesday threatened to bar France's Marine Le Pen, who heads the far-right National Front party, over comments she made concerning Russia's illegal annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.

"Making statements that repeat Kremlin propaganda, the French politician shows disrespect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and completely ignores the fundamental principles of international law," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"In this regard, we remind that such statements and actions in violation of the Ukrainian legislation will necessarily have consequences, as it was in the case of certain French politicians, who are denied entry to Ukraine," it added.

Earlier Wednesday, Le Pen claimed that the 2014 referendum, declared illegal by the UN General Assembly, was not illegal.

"There was a referendum. The citizens of Crimea wanted to join Russia," Le Pen told French broadcaster BFMTV.

Relations between Ukraine and Russia have soured since Moscow launched a campaign to retake the peninsula, home of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, in the wake of pro-European protests in Kyiv that pushed pro-Kremlin President Viktor Yanukovych out of office in February 2014.

The annexation of Crimea exasperated hostilities in Ukraine's eastern regions, prompting pro-Russia rebel forces to launch an insurgency that has left around 10,000 people dead and affected more than half a million children, according to UN figures.

Finance controversy

Meanwhile, Le Pen told the French broadcaster that her party is lacking 6 million euros ($6.3 million) for her 2017 presidential campaign.

She has asked foreign institutions, including Russian banks, for backing since domestic banks have rejected financing her campaign, Le Pen said.

In 2015, leaked text messages between Russian officials revealed an apparent cash-for-recognition scheme ahead of the Crimean referendum, reported French investigative news site Mediapart.

Shortly after the referendum, when her then-diplomatic adviser Aymeric Chauprade reportedly acted as an "observer" of the referendum, the National Front's financial arm received two loans from Russian-backed banks, amounting to approximately 11 million euros, according to media reports.

However, Le Pen has consistently denied that a deal took place in exchange for the recognition of the referendum's results.

Russia's business daily "Kommersant" reported last month that the government's deposit insurance agency filed a lawsuit against the National Front party to recuperate borrowed funds after revoking the operating license for the Moscow-based First Czech-Russian Bank, which funded at least one of the loans.

France: National Front expects protest vote

ls/cmk (dpa, Reuters)