Philippe de Villiers’ Connections with Russia

Philippe de Villiers is a French entrepreneur, politician and writer. In August 2014 Villiers travelled to Crimea to table with Russian President Vladimir Putin; while there, he supported the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea by declaring the Crimean Park would “promote the history of Crimea as part of the long history of Russia”. He also noted there “I would gladly swap Hollande and Sarkozy for Putin”.

Philippe de Villiers, the founder of Puy du Fou, a historical theme park near Nantes, defended his controversial partnership with a blacklisted Russian banker, Konstantin Valerevich Malofeev. The collaboration aimed to build historical amusement parks in Moscow and Crimea, raising concerns due to Malofeev’s alleged involvement in funding pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine. The EU had sanctioned Malofeev with a travel ban and assets freeze. Konstantin Valerevich Malofeev a Russian oligarch since the beginning of the Ukraine invasion, US prosecutors have charged Konstantin Malofeyev, an arch-conservative with close links to Russian President Vladimir Putin, for sanctions violations.

Villiers, defended Malofeev, describing him as “a responsible man” and criticizing EU sanctions as a “reign of terror.” He emphasized that the sanctions were based on opinion and did not reflect Malofeev’s character. His son Nicolas de Villiers, president of Puy du Fou, asserted that EU sanctions wouldn’t affect their plans, emphasizing the economic benefits for France.

The deal was signed after Philippe de Villiers met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Crimea, praising Putin’s vision and charisma. Villiers expressed admiration for Putin’s leadership and asserted that Europe’s future depended on cooperation with Russia.

The amusement parks, named “Tsargrad,” were planned for Moscow and Crimea, with Malofeev investing millions of euros. Despite tensions surrounding Crimea’s annexation, Nicolas de Villiers stressed that the partnership aimed for peace and cooperation between France and Russia.

The Moscow park was scheduled to open in 2016, followed by the Crimean park in 2017. Puy du Fou, known for its successful blend of history and entertainment, saw the partnership as an opportunity for collaboration between France and Russia, aiming to create jobs and promote peace.

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