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French press review 3 May 2014

The escalation of conflict in Ukraine is clearly the most worrying issue for the French national dailies but they also look at Egyptian politics, Euro-elections, the Eurotunnel, weapons on sale on the internet and an all-Breton football derby.

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Ukraine is on the brink of war, if we go by Le Figaro's description of the situation on the ground following the launching by Kiev of a delicate operation to liberate the eastern Ukrainian enclave of Slavyansk and Moscow’s denunciation of the military expedition as a criminal act. In its editorial the right-wing newspaper says that all the interim authorities in Ukraine have been dealt a bad hand in this game.

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According to Le Figaro, for weeks now Kiev has had no choice but to stand passively and watch the pro-Russian separatists gain ground in the east of the country to the point where the secession of its oriental provinces now looks like a foregone conclusion.

All this because the transitional government in Kiev is wary of igniting the gunpowder or spilling the blood of the people it seeks to liberate. Le Figaro believes there is bound to be no winners in the crazy race organised by Russian President Vladmir Putin.

Libération is most preoccupied by the rising death toll in south Ukraine - the death of 31 in a fire in Odessa and the killing of two civilians, four soldiers and three rebels during clashes on Friday between the pro-Russian militias and the military. According to Libé, Kiev is paying for the grave mistake it made when its military decided to concentrate its state of military preparedness on the Russian enemy.

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Libération claims that it is this strategic blunder which enabled the pro-Russians to consolidate their influence over the people in the east and the takeover of the administrative apparatus.

La Croix comments about the launch this Saturday of campaigns for Egyptian presidential elections scheduled for 26 May. The Catholic daily expresses deep concern about the tense political climate under which the poll is being prepared. It observes that just two candidates have been cleared to run - the great favourite and former army chief Marshall Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who has taken off his uniform to stand as a civilian against 59-year-old Hamdine Sabbahi, an anti-Morsi opposition leader who came third in the 2012 presidential elections.

La Croix warns that Egypt could be on the verge of the darkest days in the country’s long history of dictatorships with 700 members of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood sentenced to death.

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La Croix shines some light on the Eurotunnel, 20 years after the inauguration of one of the most spectacular feats of engineering. According to the Catholic daily, it caused Britain to lose a bit of its “insularity”. It speaks about the amazing lives currently being lived by engineers working day and night to keep the fantastic Eurostar train up and running.

With European elections just three weeks away, Le Monde looks at the paradoxical debate about a Europe many nations are thankful to join while a number of political parties are deeply hostile to it.

Aujourd’hui en France raises the alarm as police sources say that individuals, collectors

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and criminals are buying weapons of war on the internet, adding that the deliveries are being done through postal services.

And “Gouel ar Vretoned” headlines L’Equipe in the Breton language as it sets the stage for tonight’s all-Breton final of the French football Cup between Rennes and Guingamp. The sport daily expects a festive atmosphere and guarantees suspense, pointing out that thousands of hot-blooded fans prepare to take the Stade de France by storm to cheer on their teams.
 

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