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French ambassador attends Putin inauguration day after summons: France

Putin takes oath for record fifth presidential term
Source: Video Screenshot

France’s ambassador to Moscow on Tuesday represented Paris at the inauguration of President Vladimir Putin for a fifth term, a day after the envoy was summoned to the Russian foreign ministry in a move France denounced as intimidation.

Ambassador Pierre Levy was present at the ceremony in the Kremlin, a French foreign ministry spokesman told AFP. Several other major European powers were not represented at any level among the 2,500 dignitaries who came.

Putin won a landslide victory with more than 87 percent of the vote in the March presidential election marked by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and accusations of vote-rigging by the opposition.

The French foreign ministry reaffirmed its previous statement on the election that Paris “took note” of the result while condemning “the context of repression in which it was held” and the fact people cast votes in areas of Ukraine occupied by Russia.

Russia had on Monday summoned the ambassador to the foreign ministry in Moscow to denounce what it described as the “provocative” policies of President Emmanuel Macron.

“The Russian side presented its assessment that Paris’s destructive and provocative line is leading to an escalation of the conflict,” the Russian foreign ministry said.

In a recent interview with The Economist magazine, Macron said he was “not ruling anything out” in the West’s response to the conflict in Ukraine, including sending troops to the country.

The French foreign ministry on Tuesday lashed out at the summons, saying that diplomatic channels “are once again being distorted for the purpose of information manipulation and intimidation”.

Tensions between Paris and Moscow have also been rising more than two years into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine over French accusations of deliberate Russian disinformation ahead of European elections in June.

But after meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday, Macron made clear France was not seeking “regime change” in Russia. Xi is due to host Putin in China next month.

Several social media accounts with large followings strongly backing Ukraine’s fight against the invasion angrily denounced the ambassador’s attendance at the ceremony.

Meanwhile, MEP Michael Gahler, the spokesman on foreign affairs of the European People’s Party (EPP) group in the European parliament said it was “extremely regrettable” that representatives of France, Hungary, Slovakia, Greece, Cyprus and Malta had attended the inauguration.

Representatives of other key Western powers — including Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States — are not believed to have attended.

“Putin is an illegitimate president after a travesty of an ‘electoral’ process’ that falls short of any democratic standards,” he wrote on X.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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