BRUSSELS (AP) — The daughter of the spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin has secured an intern's job at the European Union's legislature at a time of increasing political confrontation between the EU and Russia.
Right-wing French lawmaker Aymeric Chauprade on Tuesday defended his decision to hire Elizaveta Peskova, the daughter of Dmitry Peskov, saying she is a trainee studying law and international relations in France.
"The European Parliament has validated the contract and all procedures have been respected," Chauprade said, adding that the criticism amounts to "conspiratorial Russophobia."
The European Parliament said interns do not get access to sensitive information. The story was first reported by RFE/RL Radio Free Europe.
The EU and Russia are currently at loggerheads over a series of issues ranging from Moscow's annexation of the Crimea peninsula to energy policies.
Chauprade said in an interview with The Associated Press that Peskova started working for him last November and plans to leave at the end of April.
Chauprade is on the EU parliament's foreign affairs committee, the security and defense sub-committee and the EU-Russia parliamentary cooperation delegation.
When questioned about the fact that Peskov is high up in the Kremlin hierarchy, Chauprade said that "yes, he has a very important position," but insisted that neither he nor any of his staff has access to confidential information about Russia.
He said that the 21-year-old Peskova's work is not centered on Russian issues and that she is working just as much on relations with Senegal and Morocco, among others.
Asked about the controversy that his daughter's internship has caused, Peskov told reporters on Tuesday that "this is about an ordinary student and an ordinary internship" and refused to comment further on his private life.
Nataliya Vasilyeva contributed to this report from Moscow.