National Front, the French far-right party which is gaining support as confidence in European Union institutions wanes, took out a 9 million euro ($11.2 million) loan from a Russian-owned bank backed by the Kremlin.
Marine Le Pen, the National Front's leader and Presidential candidate for the 2017 French election, admitted to French daily Le Monde that the party took out the loan in September from the Russian-owned First Czech-Russian Bank (FCRB), which was established in 1996 by the Czech government, but is now owned by Roman Popov, its former chairman and a crony of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"We cast our net wide," Le Pen told Le Monde. " Spain, Italy, the United States, in Asia and Russia. We signed with the first party we caught hold of, and we are very happy," she said. She added that the suggestion that the loan was a "gesture of kindness" by a friend of the party was "outrageous".