Putin's latest purchase in France
Former French Prime Minister Francois Fillon had been nominated to the board of directors of the Russian state-owned company Zarubezhneft
On Friday, Russian media announced that former French Prime Minister Francois Fillon, had been nominated to the board of directors of the Russian state-owned company, Zarubezhneft. This came after Russia’s Prime Minister, Mikhail Mishustin, signed the decree, with a list of candidates, which was published on Russia’s portal of legal information.
Fillon, a former presidential candidate, is presented on the list as “President of Apteras,” the consulting company he founded in 2017, with a history of working with French companies established in Russia.
Fillon confirmed that he was "offered to sit on the board of directors of several Russian companies.”
Fillon was seen as the favored candidate during the 2017 presidential elections, by the French and Kremlin too. Rumors swirled of Fillon’s close relationship with Putin and of course, when Putin was asked, he responded with praise for the candidate, calling him an “upstanding person.” Putin also said that he welcomed Fillon’s intentions to improve ties with Russia. Where have we heard that before?
Fillon found himself in a scandal, in 2017, when news broke of a Lebanese billionaire businessman paying him $50,000 to organize meetings with Putin and the chief executive of French oil giant, Total. Fillon, allegedly, organized the meeting between his client and Putin during the St Petersburg International Economic Forum in June 2015. The same forum where Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer, was invited to attend, during 2016 US elections, to potentially meet with Putin. That trip never occurred.
In his latest troubles last year, June 2020, a French court sentenced the former Prime Minister, to five years in jail, three of them suspended, for embezzling public funds in a scandal that wrecked his 2017 run for president. Not sure how he will serve on the board of the Russian oil company with all these legal problems. But Fillon is the perfect corrupt fit for the Kremlin.
Fillon is the latest high profile purchase by the Kremlin. Recently, Austria’s former Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl, whose 2018 wedding was attended by Putin, became a member of Rosneft’s board of directors. Her relationship with Putin made headlines, in 2018, when Putin flew to her wedding and pictures of the two dancing were splashed all over world media outlets and social media. Her marriage was short lived but her profitable relationship with the Kremlin continues. Months after her infamous dance, news emerged that an Austrian army colonel was suspected of spying for and passing information to the Russians. At the time, Foreign Minister Kneissl had summoned the Russian ambassador and canceled her upcoming trip to Russia. Clearly, the national security implications, to Austria, weren’t enough to deter Kniessl from joining Rosneft, Russia’s state owned oil company. For some, money and power, continue to hold more importance, than the future and security of their country. And Putin knows and exploits that!