France's anti-Muslim presidential candidate Zemmour wants 'zero Ukrainian refugees', continues to defend Putin

France's anti-Muslim presidential candidate Zemmour wants 'zero Ukrainian refugees', continues to defend Putin
The populist and anti-Muslim candidate has repeatedly expressed his admiration for Putin and rejected the idea of welcoming Ukrainian refugees. His popularity seems to be slumping as a result.
2 min read
06 March, 2022
Eric Zemmour's persistent backing of Putin is sparking unease among some of his followers [Laurent Coust/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty]

France's far-right candidate Eric Zemmour has gone through a sharp drop in popularity after making several unsavoury comments on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and repeatedly displaying sympathy and admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

While he remains among the top three most popular candidates in the coming presidential election, Zemmour's share of intended votes among French electors has slipped down to 13% in March, compared to 14.5% last month, the French daily Le Monde reported on Sunday.

"Ukrainian refugees don't want to come, they want to stay close to home," Zemmour said on Wednesday, a few days after saying that France was already "swamped" by immigration and that Ukrainian refugees should stay in Poland.

Although Zemmour condemned the invasion  of Ukraine, he has continued to blame the West for refusing to listen to Russian President Vladimir Putin's security concerns.

"Putin is guilty, but it is NATO’s expansionism that is responsible for the war," Zemmour told the French RTL radio on Monday.

The pundit also repeatedly assured that Russia would not invade Ukraine and expressed longing for a "French Putin", an opinion that now sparks unease among some of his followers. 

In September 2020, Zemmour tweeted that he favoured a "Russian alliance" and that Moscow was France's "most reliable ally."

The first round of France's 2022 presidential election will take place on April 10. So far focused on domestic issues, the race has taken a sharp turn following Russia's unilateral invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

Zemmour is one among three of the five leading candidates who strongly criticised NATO prior to the invasion, deeming it useless.

The far-right polemist, who had been trying to garner support with anti-Muslim and xenophobic rhetoric, even said that if elected, he planned to pull France out of NATO's military command.