French presidential frontrunner Emmanuel Macron is being targeted by Russian media and Internet attacks from within Russia with the goal of helping the election campaigns of his pro-Moscow rivals, his party chief said on Monday.
Macron, a centrist, is the front-runner in the French elections, a poll released last week indicated.
It comes after French intelligence warned of growing concerns about the risk of a Russian cyber attack in support of far-right candidate Le Pen.
Russia's choice was "for a very simple reason: they do not want a strong Europe, they want a weak Europe", he accused.
The claims echo accusations by United States officials that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered cyberattacks on USA organisations to help Donald Trump get elected.
Russia Today said it rejected allegations it spread fake news in general and in relation to Macron and the upcoming French election.
RT and Sputnik, both of which have French-language sites, echoed the denials.
Fillon's decline has put Macron in a position to make it into a May 7 runoff vote, where polls see him winning by a large margin against far right leader Marine Le Pen, who has received funds in the past from a Russian lender and pledged to have good relations with Russia if elected. Fillon faces an intense crisis in his election campaign following revelations about jobs as parliamentary assistants in favor of his wife and two eldest sons.
Macron's campaign manager Richard Ferrand had accused Russian Federation of committing "hundreds, if not thousands" of cyberattacks on his party's website since Macron announced his candidacy in November a year ago.
He again pointed the finger at Russian state-controlled media Russia Today and Sputnik saying they were spreading "the most defamatory" rumours about Macron, including relating to his private life and the financing of his campaign. I'm saying that there is that [fake news] on one side and hundreds if not thousands of attacks on our digital system, on our data and websites.
During a visit to Algeria on Tuesday Macron said he welcomed Russia's assurances of neutrality.
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