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