PARIS (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and imprisoned Russian Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny have both expressed support for French President Emmanuel Macron ahead of an election that pits Macron against pro-Russia far-right candidate Marine Le Pen .
Navalny tweeted his support for Macron, calling on French citizens to vote for him in Sunday’s second round, while Zelenskiy, in a television interview, said he did not want to influence the French elections but spoke out in favor of Macron.
“A Russian political prisoner addressing French voters is quite ironic… I certainly urge, without hesitation, the French people to vote for @EmmanuelMacron on April 24,” Navalny said in a lengthy Twitter thread.
He added that he also wanted to appeal to those who wouldn’t rule out voting for Le Pen. He said anyone who calls themselves a “conservative” and sympathizes with Russian President Vladimir Putin is really “just a hypocrite with no conscience”.
“Elections are always difficult. But you have to go there to at least vote against someone,” Navalny wrote.
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Navalny was jailed last year after returning to Russia after receiving medical treatment in Germany following a poison attack.
Zelenskiy was more circumspect in his support for Macron.
“Although I don’t think I have the right to influence what happens in your country, I want to say that I have a relationship with Emmanuel Macron and I wouldn’t want to lose it,” he said. on the French television channel BFM.
He added that Le Pen was wrong in his views on Russian-Ukrainian issues. “If Le Pen realizes she made a mistake, our relationship could change,” Zelenskiy said.
Le Pen, who before the war had been an open admirer of Putin, said that as president she would block European sanctions against Russian oil and gas.
(Reporting by Geert De Clercq; editing by Jonathan Oatis)
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