Emmanuel Macron, the recently elected president of France, is no stranger to Russian hacking and interference. During the campaign preceding Macron’s election, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and his operatives were busy meddling with the race, in much the same way as it is alleged they interfered in the United State’s presidential race.
The Russian’s hacking did not achieve the desired results in the French election, as the right wing candidate preferred by Russia, Marie La Pen, was eventually defeated. The Russian interference did not go unnoticed by Macron and did not leave his mind after his victory or during his meeting with Putin at the Palace of Versailles on Monday.
After a private meeting between the two leaders, they shared a joint press conference standing behind respective podiums. During this public meeting, Macron accused the Russians of using their media to run disinformation campaigns. Specifically, he called out the two Russian outlets Sputnik and Russia today (RT). Macron further explained that this is the reason that he had banned the two outlets from his campaign headquarters during the presidential race.
The New York Post reported that the words by Macron were “remarkably frank” when he was speaking about Sputnik and Russia Today. He said specifically that instead of behaving like news outlets, they had both worked like agents of propaganda, and purposely tried to influence their readers with “serious falsehoods.” Macron made it clear that these behaviors will never be given in to by his administration.
Besides the false reporting and propaganda, Macron boldly addressed Putin and Russia’s track record regarding the civil rights of LGBT people, and the alleged arrests, torture, and murder of the gay citizens of Chechnya. He reported that the two had discussed the Chechnya cases and that he had told President Putin his, and France’s expectations regarding how this issue will be handled in the future. In order to stay up to date, he will be regularly checking in the Russian President for reports on the subject.