Friday, October 7, 2022

French presidential election: Protester tackled to the ground and dragged from room after holding up picture of Marine Le Pen and Vladimir Putin | World News

A protester was thrown to the ground and dragged from Marine Le Pen’s press conference after holding up a heart-shaped sign with a photo of the French presidential candidate and Vladimir Putin.

Footage shows Pauline Rapilly Ferniot, a Green city councilor for the Boulogne-Billancourt commune in Paris, get to her feet and hold up the sign while Ms Le Pen is speaking to reporters.

A security officer then throws Ms Ferniot to the ground before she is dragged out of the room by one of her arms.

The city councilor is then seen being pulled into another room before the doors are closed.

Read more: Can ‘detoxified’ Marine Le Pen convince enough voters she’s fit to be leader?

Ms Ferniot is part of a left-wing group called the Ibiza Collective, which was formed in France when the education minister went on holiday to the Balearics islands after closing schools during the pandemic.

Speaking after she was removed from the conference, Ms Ferniot said: “We just wanted to make visible the fact that Marine Le Pen’s diplomacy is to be complacent with dictators and so we made that visible.

“And remember that she was a strong partner of Vladimir Putin for a long time and we found that we were forgetting that a little today.

“And the objective of the Ibiza Collective is to highlight subjects that we don’t think we talk about enough, so it worked since you’re all talking to me about what we wanted to show. And we need, in this between-two -rounds, to remember the danger that is the National Rally.”

Pauline Rapilly Ferniot was thrown to the ground by a security officer. Pic: BFM
Pauline Rapilly Ferniot was dragged into another room after being thrown to the ground
The protester was dragged into another room after holding up the sign. Pic: BFM

Far-right presidential candidate Ms Le Pen said afterwards that Ms Ferniot had been tackled to the ground by an interior ministry protection officer, but French media have said he was a member of the presidential candidate’s own security team.

Ms Le Pen, who leads the National Rally party, used the conference to warn against sending any more weapons to Ukraine.

She also called for improved relations between NATO and Russia after the war.

Explainer: When are the French presidential elections, who is running, and how do they work?

The outspoken nationalist, who has long had ties to Russia, also confirmed she will pull France out of NATO’s military command and dial back French support for the EU if she wins the election on 24 April.

French President Emmanuel Macron, a pro-EU centrist, is facing a harder-than-expected fight to stay in power, in part because the economic impact of the war is hitting poor households the hardest.

Ms Ferniot said she wanted to remind people of Marine Le Pen's links with Russian President Vladimir Putin
Ms Ferniot said she wanted to remind people of Marine Le Pen’s links with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Pic: BFM
Marine Le Pen is an outspoken nationalist who has long ties to Russia.  Peak: AP
Marine Le Pen is an outspoken nationalist who has long had ties to Russia. Peak: AP

France’s European partners are worried that a possible Le Pen presidency could undermine western unity as the US and Europe seek to support Ukraine and end Russia’s war on its neighbour.

Asked about military aid to Ukraine, Ms Le Pen said she would continue defense and intelligence support.

“(But) I’m more reserved about direct arms deliveries. Why? Because… the line is thin between aid and becoming a co-belligerent,” the far-right leader said.

Earlier on Wednesday, French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said France had sent €100m (£82m) worth of weapons to Ukraine in recent weeks as part of a flow of western arms.

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