10:23 GMT29 February 2020
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    French presidential hopeful from The Republicans party Alain Juppe has expressed surprise at the reaction of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Francois Fillon, Juppe’s rival in the Thursday primary debates.

    PARIS (Sputnik) –On Wednesday, Putin praised Fillon saying he was "professional to the highest degree and an honest person" who "differs much from politicians in today's world."

    Juppe said on Thursday that he was "a little surprised" that Putin had chosen "his candidate."

    Former French prime minister and candidate for the right-wing Les Republicains (LR) party primaries ahead of the 2017 presidential election, Francois Fillon speaks during the second debate of the right-wing Les Republicains (LR) party primaries on November 3, 2016 at the salle Wagram venue in Paris.
    © AFP 2019 / Eric Feferberg
    Fillon stressed that he had never seen any direct support from Putin who had also praised Juppe.

    On November 24, Francois Fillon and Alain Juppe emerged as the winners of the first round of The Republicans primaries with the former securing 44 percent of center-right voters while the latter, long thought to be the front runner, ended with just 28 percent.

    Former French leader Nicolas Sarkozy finished with the third result and thus was eliminated from the race. Sarkozy has already endorsed Fillon, who served in his government in 2007-2012.

    The second and final round of The Republicans primaries between Fillon and Juppe is set for November 27. The first round of presidential elections in France is scheduled for April 23, 2017.

    During the Thursday debate, French viewers gave their preference to Fillon, according to an Elabe survey conducted at the request of BFMTV.

    Related:

    French Ex-President d'Estaing Supports ex-PM Fillon at Center-Right Primaries
    Francois Fillon Leading in French Center-Right Presidential Primaries
    Tags:
    Vladimir Putin, Francois Fillon, Alain Juppe, France
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