Photo: REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev - RTX1LQW6
Article by: Vitaliy Portnikov
The pro-Russian position of the French deputy Thierry Mariani is determined not so much by his convictions as by the possibility of direct contacts with Russian “friends.”
The French parliamentarian Thierry Mariani was outraged by the question posed by my colleague Roman Tsymbaliuk who, during a press conference in Moscow, inquired about Mariani’s financial motives for defending Russia’s occupation of Crimea.
Mariani stated that he travels to Crimea because he has the appropriate political positions. I will not argue that Mariani lied. His political views have actually marginalized him in the ranks of his own party.
Officially, Mariani is a member of the French Republican Party (formerly UMP, Union for a Popular Movement — Ed.) and a supporter of the former French president Nicolas Sarkozy. But what he says is more similar to the rhetoric of the National Front, the extreme right-wing pro-Russian party headed up by the odious Marine Le Pen.
It is because of his extreme xenophobic views that the former transportation minister has lost his former influence in the party. And, to remain visible, he has been forced to issue scandalous statements in support of Putin and by visiting the occupied territory.
But I would not consider Mariani a “useful idiot.” He knows exactly what he is doing.
Mariani’s pro-Russian position is determined not so much by his convictions as by the possibility of direct contacts with Russian “friends.” He has an obvious conflict of interest no matter how much he may deny it.
It was not Ukrainian journalists but their French colleagues who have written extensively about Mariani’s marriage. He is married to Irina Chaikhoullina, a Russian woman. Furthermore, according to French colleagues, it was thanks to this alliance and the help of her new husband that Chaikhoullina-Mariani was able to add French citizenship to her Russian one, despite violating French immigration laws.
But life with a Russian citizen is just the tip of the iceberg. Mariani also heads up the Association of Franco-Russian Dialogue together with the former head of Russian Railways, Vladimir Yakunin.
As a reminder, even in Russia, Yakunin is considered to be one of the most corrupt figures in Putin’s entourage. His fantastic “shubokhranilischche” – the fur coat storage facility at his enormous estate for storing the finery of the elite — became a classic example of the savagery of the Russian nomenklatura and cost Yakunin his position.
Incidentally, the visits of Mariani and his cronies to Crimea are financed by the same organization — in other words, by money that has been stolen from Russians.
According to the Russian publication Vedomosti, Mariani is a member of the advisory council for CFG Capital. The investment fund itself was created by Pierre Louvrier, a Frenchman in Russian service, who has been doing business in Russia, but not in France, for a long time.
Among Mariani’s colleagues on the advisory council is Alexander Torshin, the first deputy chairman of Russia’s Federation Council and the same person who voted for war with Ukraine and the occupation of Crimea. But this is not even the main issue.
The main issue is that this investment fund, together with the Marshall Capital company, created a special fund in 2014 with 2 billion euros for investing in Russia. The Marshal Capital company is owned by the Russian oligarch Konstatin Malofeev, who is considered one of the main sponsors of the so-called DNR (Donetsk People’s Republic) and LNR (Luhansk People’s Republic).
Therefore, as they say, all the participants in Putin’s adventures are gathered under the same financial roof.
If the French were really concerned about national security, Thierry Mariani and his Russian connections would have aroused the interest not of Ukrainian journalists but of the French intelligence services.