| MOSCOW, April 27
MOSCOW, April 27 Russia accused French
presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron's campaign team of
discriminating against its media on Thursday, saying it had
trampled on the freedom of the press by banning Russian news
outlets from its events.
The Kremlin has been irritated by accusations from the
Macron camp that its campaign's networks, databases and sites
have come under attack from locations inside Russia, fuelling
suspicions that Russia is trying to undermine Macron's campaign
to help Marine Le Pen, his rival.
Moscow has rejected allegations of meddling, and on Thursday
Maria Zakharova, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, told a
news briefing that the Macron campaign had refused to accredit
the Sputnik news agency, the RT TV channel, and the Ruptly video
agency for the first round of the French election, meaning they
were unable to get proper access to Macron campaign events.
Sputnik and RT receive Russian state funding. RT is Ruptly's
Calling the move "outrageous", Zakharova said Moscow viewed
the ban as "deliberate and bare-faced discrimination against
Russian media by the presidential candidate of a state that has
historically been vigilant when it comes to free speech."
She called on the relevant French authorities and
international organisations to ensure that freedom of the press
was upheld in the second round of the presidential election,
which is scheduled for May 7.
Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of RT, said on social
media the Macron campaign was refusing to accredit her
organisation and the others for the second round as well
"So this is how gracelessly freedom of speech ends in a
country which prides itself on its freedoms almost more than it
prides itself on its Camembert and Brie cheeses," said Simonyan.
President Vladimir Putin granted an audience to Le Pen in
the Kremlin last month, bestowing a level of international
recognition that had until then eluded her in the countdown to
Le Pen has said she admires Putin and backs the lifting of
the European Union's economic sanctions imposed on Russia over
its role in the Ukraine conflict.
The Kremlin says it is not backing any candidate in the
election, which it says is purely a matter for the French
(Editing by Vladimir Soldatkin)