"We will open evening libraries and weekend libraries in cities and villages in order to allow everyone to relax through culture. I am glad that we can have this tie with the Russian people. But, taking into account the international context, I decided not to visit the official stand of Russia… it is important to continue the dialogue with the intellectual community, writers, civil society of Russia, which bring strength to these people… We should respect and protect them," Macron said on Twitter on Friday.
Il est important de poursuivre le dialogue, avec les intellectuels, les auteurs, la société civile russes qui portent la force de ce peuple. Il faut les défendre et les honorer. #RussieLivreParishttps://t.co/PChmUGFm8S— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) 16 марта 2018 г.
Earlier in the day, Macron refused to visit the Russian exhibition stand at the Paris Book Fair amid the evolving scandal surrounding the alleged poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in the United Kingdom.
About 40 writers from Russia represent Moscow at the Paris Book Fair, which opened on Thursday and will run through Monday.
Western leaders, including Macron, have joined the UK accusations and agreed to coordinate their actions over this issue.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has strongly denied all the allegations and delivered a note, requesting a joint investigation into the case, to the UK Foreign Office. The proposal was ignored by the UK leadership, while May declared a package of anti-Russian measures, including the expulsion of the Russian diplomats from the country and suspension of bilateral contacts between London and Moscow.