This Is What Happened When Marine Le Pen Went To Moscow

The French far-right leader cut short her scheduled program — and then met Russian President Vladimir Putin just one month before the French election.

French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen went to Moscow on Friday and — surprise! — look who she met.

As leader of the National Front, Le Pen has publicly praised Putin, taken a loan from a Russian bank for the party, and is one of the few European politicians who approved of Russia's annexation of Crimea.

1 month before French Presidental Elections: #LePen meets with #Putin

But why was Le Pen in Moscow on Friday? She was invited there by Leonid Slutsky, the head of the foreign affairs committee in Russia's lower house of the parliament, or Duma. Slutsky is also on the US sanctions list.

Marine Le Pen gets a kiss from Slutsky, foreign affairs committee head, during her visit to the Russian parliament.…

Given her views on Crimea, it's not surprising that she reportedly called for the lifting of EU sanctions on Russia during her meeting at the Duma.

And then Le Pen seemed to disappear.

We turned up for the Le Pen press briefing at the Russian parliament. Sadly, she didn't.

Oh there she is! The story in Moscow was that Le Pen hopped out to see an exhibit of French gothic art at the Kremlin and — voila! — there she ran into President Vladimir Putin.

The National Front has previously taken a loan from a Russian bank, but officials from the party and Putin’s spokesman said this trip was not a cash-raising exercise.

In 2014, Le Pen's National Front received a $9.7 million loan from Russian bank FCRB, which had raised concerns over Moscow's potential influence on her and her party. But last year the bank went bust and since then, the Russian deposit agency has been trying legal ways to recover the bank's loans. But it's unclear if Russian officials have specifically discussed the repayment of loans given to National Front with Le Pen.

Putin's spokesperson also said the two leaders didn't discuss financing of the party.

Le Pen also managed to run into extremely anti-gay Russian Duma member Vitaly Milonov, who posted a selfie of the two of them to his Facebook page on Friday.

Facebook: milonov

Milonov was the key figure behind Russia's infamous "Anti-Gay Propaganda" law, which has led to an increased crackdown on LGBT activists, and has railed against gays in general as being "rapists of children."

"Marine Le Pen accepts dozens of selfies a day," Le Pen spokesperson Florian Philippot told BuzzFeed News. "She obviously does not know who the person is, nor does she know the identity of anyone she's photographed with."

Ludovic de Danne, Le Pen's foreign affairs advisor who was also on the trip, added that she "can only be judged for her official meetings."

Le Pen currently trails centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron, whose supporters have accused Russian hackers of being responsible for attacks against their campaign websites.

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