Macron mulls stripping Putin of France’s top honor

BRUSSELS (AP): French President Emmanuel Macron said Friday he might strip his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin of France’s top honor, but is waiting for the “right moment” to do so.

Putin received the Grand-Croix de la Legion d’Honneur, the top rank in France’s honors system, bestowed by then-President Jacques Chirac in 2006 at a time when Moscow enjoyed better relations with Paris and the West.

But since Putin ordered last year’s all-out invasion of Ukraine, ties have all but broken down and the European Union has imposed a range of tough economic sanctions.

On Wednesday, Macron awarded Putin’s enemy Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky the top honor, but he has yet to formally remove it from Putin.

Speaking after an EU summit in which leaders considered stepping up weapons deliveries to Ukraine, Macron admitted that the question of Putin’s medal was “symbolic but important.”

Some French legislators and activists have called on Macron to rescind Putin’s award because of the war.

But, while Macron said he believed he had the right to revoke the honor, he added: “It is not a decision that I made today.”

Macron told reporters Friday that such a decision “has serious meaning, and it should be taken at the right moment.’’ He noted that he has rescinded the honor in the past.

Macron stripped Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of his Legion of Honor award in the wake of widespread sexual misconduct allegations against him in 2017.

Disgraced cyclist and former Tour de France star Lance Armstrong also had his French Legion of Honor award revoked.