The 2016 Russian state budget saw further spending cuts in science, healthcare, and education, but budget increases when it comes to military and media expenditure.

The Moscow Times reported last week that the state-owned television network Russia Today (now RT) was given an additional 1,22 billion roubles (ca USD 19 million) in order to start a French language TV channel. Thus, RT’s overall budget has been increased to 18,74 billion roubles (USD 293 million) for 2017.

Moscow Times quotes experts that “the reason for creating a French-language channel has nothing to do with the network’s efficiency or performance but rather geopolitics”. According to politologist Igor Bunin, still quoted by the Moscow Times, the Kremlin wants to influence the outcome of upcoming elections in France.

RT’s French service is meant to cover all the Francophone regions, including African countries, with the principal accent on Belgium, France, Switzerland and Canada, notes UA Today.