French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday labeled two Russian media organizations as “organs of influence and propaganda.”
Macron, standing alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin, said RT and Sputnik “behaved like structures of the government” instead of independent news channels. During his presidential race, Macron had banned reporters from the organizations from his campaign headquarters.
Propaganda and misinformation have been at the center of concerns that Russia meddled in foreign elections, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the recent French election on May 7 that put Macron in power.
Just days before the French vote, a cache of hacked Macron e-mails was leaked online, just as hacked e-mails from the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, the chairman of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign, were made public ahead of the U.S. election.
In Monday’s press conference, which followed a one-on-one meeting between Putin and Macron, Putin denied interfering in the French election, according to The Associated Press.
Putin said his meetings with Macron’s electoral opponent, the far-right leader Marine Le Pen, were simply a response to a politician who had promised improved ties.
At the joint press conference, Macron seemed to make a point of highlighting issues about which that France and Russia sharply disagree.
Macron drew a “red line” on the use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom Putin supports, raised concerns over inaction on anti-LGBT violence in Chechnya, and mentioned Russia’s own domestic crackdown on NGOs.