Vladimir Putin praises French presidential contender Francois Fillo

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Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday he welcomed intentions to improve ties with Russia that have been voiced by contenders to be the French centre-right's presidential candidate.

Putin said he has good personal relations with one of the contenders, Francois Fillon, calling him an "upstanding person."

Speaking to reporters, Putin also said that Moscow hopes that Western moves to counter Russian media will not result in serious restrictions.

Fillon, a 62-year-old social conservative with economically liberal ideas who admires late British prime minister Margaret Thatcher.