From Assad to Putin: who won the highest award of France

The newspaper Le Monde this week has released an investigation of “troubled system” of awarding the highest French award of the Legion of honour. The most recent newsworthy is the recent visit of Vladimir Putin to Paris.

“Did Makron” that Putin has the Legion of honor?

“May 29, Emmanuel macron took Vladimir Putin in the luxury of Versailles. Did he (macron) that the Russian President is also the holder of the Grand cross (of the Legion of honour)”?— asked by Le Monde, and reminds us that “a former KGB agent has received the award from the hands of Jacques Chirac on 22 September 2006 for “contributions to the unbreakable friendly relations between France and Russia.”

The newspaper States that at that time, learning about the awarding Putin the highest French award, the international human rights organization “reporters without borders” called the initiative of Shirak “shocking”. “This is an insult to all who struggle in Russia for freedom of the press and democracy,” — said human rights activists.

Two weeks after the ceremony Putin, “which were not invited neither French journalist (see video of the Russian TV), “reporters without borders” again expressed their indignation” act of Chirac, but now it appeared a tragic occasion: on 7 October 2006 in Moscow murdered journalist Anna Politkovskaya, “an uncompromising opponent of the owner of the Kremlin.”

Precedent Noriega

Immediately after the story about the circumstances of the awarding of the highest French awards to the Russian President, Le Monde reminds that since 2010, in France there is a precedent that allows the exclusion of aliens from the list of awardees. A precedent known as the “Noriega”.

Manuel Noriega (1934-2017) — former Panamanian dictator ousted in the military operation of the USA in 1989. Two years before this, French President Mitterrand made General Noriega as commander of the Legion of honour. But in 1999 a French court sentenced the General to 10 years for laundering money obtained through drug trafficking. And after 11 years, the United States extradited former Panamanian dictator to Paris, where he had a trial in the presence of the accused, a process which confirmed the previous sentence.

And as the French authorities “thought the unthinkable” a situation in which sitting on the dock for such a serious accusation Noriega could during the trial to wear on his chest the highest French award, this award deprived.

“Tragic mistake” and considerations of real politik

In France, it is incumbent, by law is the only carrier of the highest degree of the award chain of the Grand master of the Legion of honour. That is why questions about “controversial” cases, awarded by the newspaper Le Monde addresses the Makron.

“As the Supreme guarantor of national orders, does Emmanuel macron that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who poisons his own people with sarin, is the bearer of the Grand cross of the Legion of honour”?— asks Le Monde.

“Grand cross of the Legion of honour of Bashar?— surprised védrine, who at the time of awarding Assad (25.06.2001) was Minister of foreign Affairs of France. — I should have known about it at the time, but now I don’t remember this perfect,” he says. And remembers that Chirac, who in 2000 took him to the funeral of the father of Bashar, Hafez al-Assad (by the way, Hafez was the owner of the same the highest French award), was convinced that “with the arrival of a new generation of monarchs” in Jordan, Morocco and Syria, there will be established a more progressive order.

“Then those hopes did not seem devoid of reason,” says anonymous French diplomat, specialist on the Middle East. But that’s the hope for change in Syria turned into a “tragic mistake,” admits the diplomat.

However, the “tragic error” in presenting the Legion of honor is extremely rare. Most often, the highest French leadership takes a decision about awarding another dictator or a businessman (with unclear origin of income), guided by considerations of real politik.

It’s time to interrupt the “glorious history” of the order?

Of course you may recall that the Legion of honor was given to “sweet talk” high-ranking foreigners from the very beginning, since 1802, when this award came up with Napoleon Bonaparte.

“Glorious tradition” continued after 1962, when President Charles de Gaulle ordered the creation of the Code (the order) of the Legion of honor, where he described in detail the rules and principles of the award. The Code then repeatedly amended, but not changed the situation fundamentally, writes Le Monde. Still the criteria for the award is very vague, and a full list of the winners are kept in strict confidence.

But we know that to “reform” the award was received by Benito Mussolini (two years after the creation of the fascist party), and the Romanian Secretary General Nicolae Ceausescu, the Central African Emperor Bokassa, Tunisian President Ben Ali, and possibly (unconfirmed), “brotherly leader of the Libyan revolution leader” Muammar Gaddafi…

The French media regularly write articles with the following headlines: “Scoundrels”, which received the Legion of honor” (Vanity Fair); “Saudi Arabia /order/ Legion of Shame” (Paris Match, March 2016, in response to the awarding Hollande Saudi crown Prince).

There are very negative examples with the awarding of the French — for example, Andre Tyler, in charge at the Prefecture of police of Paris (1940-1943) for the “solution of the Jewish question”, until the end of his life (which peacefully ended in 1967) has remained a knight of the Legion of honor. The owner of the award was Maurice Papon, responsible for sending to the camps more than 6 thousand Jews, and for the tragedy of October 17, 1961, when his orders (he held the position of prefect of police of Paris) police were beaten and dumped into the Seine Algerian of Paris (according to various estimates, killed from 30 to 98). Papon though judged in the late ‘ 90s, but the rewards it did not deprive anyone.

However, the majority of holders of the order are the people, the awarding of which almost no one can call reasonable questions.

For example (one of thousands) you can take a Resistance hero Raymond Aubrac, who in 2010, at the age of 95 years, at the behest of President Nicolas Sarkozy, was lucky to become the owner of the Grand cross of the Legion of honour. Aubrac agreed to accept the award on the condition that he would not receive it from the hands of Sarkozy.

The French President had to accept the terms of Raymond Aubrac: the award handed him another hero of the Resistance — 90-year-old Nobel laureate Francois Jacob.

Dozens of worthy names to be found among Russian owners of the order.

But “how can we tolerate”, to a cohort of worthy holders of the most prestigious French awards are listed as “generally recognized killer”? “As one and the same order may be awarded and the worst and the best?” — asks Le Monde. And calls of Emmanuel Macron, the President, who declared himself a fighter for ethics in politics — to put an end to a tradition that does not paint France.

“Sad to see” how the financial-political businessmen “muddy” award, which “so many decent people are so high,” writes Le Monde.