According to the FranceInfo investigative report, the former French prime minister and former presidential candidate would have requested help from the Russian government.

Interesting French MPs targeted by investigations into Russian-related corruption case

For their investigation into Vladimir Putin's networks in France, FranceInfo discovered documents describing covert pacts and partnerships. The Dossier Center, a non-profit group established by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a former tycoon and lifelong critic of Putin's administration, disclosed confidential documents. The Russian government has developed links with his London-based staff.

One of these documents is dated February 2019 and comes from the Russian embassy in Paris. It alludes to a demand made at the time by Francois Fillon, the prime minister of France. After meeting with Putin, he asked for a meeting with the CEO of Russian gas company Gazprom.

In the statement, it is said that he "asks for assistance in setting up a meeting with Alexei Miller, with whom he would want to address the following topics: a project of financing a soccer team, mentioned in the meeting with Putin in December, and Nord Stream 2."

He "has power, he knows France from the inside, and he has contacts" to do business with Europe and affect political life. A few months after his meeting with Putin, he met three times with Alexei Miller, the powerful CEO of Gazprom.

It is unknown if Francois Fillon received financial remuneration from Gazprom. However, he was offered two board posts in Russia for 2021: one at the oil company Zarubezhneft and the other at the petrochemical company Sibur. It is estimated that these two positions will pay at least 80,000 euros a year in salary.

Former Russian ambassador to France Alexander Orlov agrees that these are attractive positions that require a counterpart to exert influence "in the right direction" and forge business relationships. FranceInfo's journalist asked François Fillon about this, but he chose not to comment.

Four days after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, Fillon resigned from the boards of directors of the two Russian enterprises in response to global criticism, claiming that he had not got any of the promised money.

"This is a collective failing, but in the hierarchy of responsibility, Vladimir Putin alone is responsible for having begun a needless conflict," Fillon wrote about the war in an essay for the French monthly Le Journal du Dimanche.

So, Francois Fillon did indeed receive his gifts from Russia. We must examine some of his most recent statements regarding the war between Russia and Ukraine, though, in order to determine whether he was biased and used influence in return. On February 24, the former prime minister faced backlash for criticizing “the West's inability to listen” to Russian requests about NATO.

“I have been cautioning against the West's refusal to consider Russian requests over the expansion of NATO for the past ten years”. Just moments after Vladimir Putin announced the invasion of Ukraine, François Fillon declared, “This approach leads today to a dangerous conflict that could have been prevented”.

Therefore, Fillon was condemning NATO on the day Putin began a brutal war against a sovereign Ukraine.

The MEP Raphael Glucksmann claimed on BFM-TV that "François Fillon is an employee of Vladimir Putin" and that "we will have to put an end to all these betrayals." Yael Braun-Pivet, a member of La République en marche and the head of the National Assembly's law committee, wrote on Twitter, “No, there is no “but”. The war is a fact whoever chooses to wage it. This partial condemnation is dishonorable to you”. Yannick Jadot, an activist for the environment, referred to François Fillon as "an ally of a dictator who is waging war in Europe."

It is obvious that Russia uses attractive jobs in its gas and oil corporations to win the loyalty of European politicians. Other previous high-ranking European officials have recently been on the boards of Russian energy businesses, including former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in 2017 and former Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl in June 2021.

Fillon's 2017 presidential candidacy was destroyed by the scandal. Together with his wife, who received a suspended sentence, Fillon is appealing the convictions. He remains free while the appeals are being heard. Now, he’s facing another scandal.

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