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MOSCOW, March 22. /TASS/. The Kremlin has dismissed as a falsehood media rumors French presidential candidate from the Republicans party, Francois Fillon, had arranged for Lebanese multimillionaire Fouad Makhzoumi’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne getting $50,000 in exchange.
"We did see these media reports. Honestly, they look like another canard, like fake news," Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the media, adding that the Russian presidential protocol service was responsible for organizing all of President Putin’s meetings.
"The meetings did take place," Peskov said. He remarked that "the president is traditionally present at the International St. Petersburg Economic Forum and will be there this year."
"The purpose of his presence is communication with the maximum possible number of businessmen and foreign investors," Peskov said.
He drew attention to the fact Total had long maintained effective cooperation on the Russian market and was working on major projects.
"You surely know about the close, friendly relations of friendship and partnership with the late head of the Total company Christophe de Margerie, who was posthumously awarded the Order of Merit. Moscow had great respect for him," Peskov said. "After de Margerie’s tragic death business relations with his successor continued."
"A company that is present on our market certainly does not need any mediators for arranging a meeting with our President," Peskov said. In his opinion "it is rather absurd to say that the meeting was arranged by somebody."
As for Makhzoumi, the President communicates with and poses for pictures with a large number of businessmen. This does not require any mediation. "Such things happen when their paths cross," Peskov said.
"All of the president’s meetings are arranged for by the presidential protocol service and the role of any mediators are excluded.
"The media rumors look like another fake," he said.