The Kremlin’s marriage of convenience with the European far right

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Crimea, 16 March. Here they are: international ‘observers’ at the illegal and illegitimate ‘referendum’ held in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea occupied by the Russian ‘little green men.’ The overwhelming majority of the ‘observers’ are representatives of a broad spectrum of European extreme-right parties and organisations: Austria’s Freiheitliche Partei (FPÖ) and Bündnis Zukunft, Belgian Vlaams Belang and Parti Communautaire National-Européen, Bulgarian Ataka, French Front National, Hungarian Jobbik, Italian Lega Nord and Fiamma Tricolore, Polish Samoobrona, Serbian ‘Dveri’ movement, Spanish Plataforma per Catalunya. They were invited to legitimise the ‘referendum’ by the Eurasian Observatory for Democracy & Elections (EODE) – a smart name for an ‘international NGO’ founded and headed by Belgian neo-Nazi Luc Michel, a loyal follower of Belgian convicted war-time collaborationist and neo-Nazi Jean-François Thiriart. Presented by Michel as ‘a non-aligned NGO’, the EODE does not conceal its anti-Westernism and loyalty to Putin, and is always there to put a stamp of ‘legitimacy’ on all illegitimate political developments, whether in Crimea, Transnistria, South Ossetia or Abkhazia. Moscow’s money talks.

Yet the EODE is only a drop in the ocean of extensive co-operation between the Kremlin and the European far right. Front National’s Marine Le Pen now visits Moscow on a seemingly regular basis: in August 2013 and April 2014 she had meetings with Vice Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin and Speaker of the Russian parliament Sergey Naryshkin. Le Pen’s adviser on geopolitical matters Aymeric Chauprade participated, as an ‘expert’, in the meeting of the Committee for Family, Women and Children Issues in the Russian parliament to endorse the laws banning adoption of Russian orphan children by LGBT couples. Several former members of the Front National run ProRussia.TV, an extension of the Kremlin’s international PR instruments such as Russia Today and the Voice of Russia. . . .

Jobbik’s leader Gábor Vona gave a lecture at Moscow State University at the invitation of Russian right-wing extremist Aleksandr Dugin; according to Vona, it would be better for Hungary to leave the EU and join the Russia-dominated Eurasian Union. Dugin himself gave a talk in the United Kingdom at the invitation of the far-right Traditional Britain Group and wrote a letter of support to Nikolaos Michaloliakos, the now jailed leader of the Greek neo-Nazi Golden Dawn, whose political programme urges Greek society to turn away from ‘American Zionists’ and ‘Western usury’ towards Russia. Just a few days ago, Bulgarian Ataka’s leader Volen Siderov launched his party’s European election campaign in Moscow. . . .

For the European extreme right, Putin is a powerful leader, who has challenged the political status quo of the West and has questioned the global role of the US, which the European extreme right openly loathe. The allegedly anti-globalist agenda of the Kremlin – which, in reality, is a concealed attempt at seizing and securing the position of the global superpower for Russia itself – attracts the European far left too, especially in Germany, France, Greece, Portugal and the Czech Republic.

Russia’s rise as an anti-Western power is seen by the European extreme right as an amazing example of national sovereignty and self-determination. These ideas are most prominent in today’s Eurosceptic rhetoric of the extreme right parties based in the EU, ‘a technocratic monster that only serves the interests of bankers’ (Le Pen), from which, according to Geert Wilders of the Dutch far right Partij voor de Vrijheid, European nation-states should ‘liberate’ themselves. Forza Nuova even calls upon Putin to destroy ‘the Europe of technocrats.’ . . .

Russia’s authoritarian conservatism is yet another source of attraction for the European extreme right that consider Russia a country where ‘traditional’, ‘family’ and ‘Christian values’ have triumphed. For Jobbik’s Vona, Russia is ‘a better Europe’ because it ‘preserves its traditions and does not follow the culture of money and the masses’. Russia’s anti-gay laws, in particular, were a hit among many European ultranationalists, especially in France and in Italy, where the far-right Fronte Nazionale expressed its support for Putin’s ‘courageous position against the powerful gay lobby’ (as well as anti-EU and pro-Assad stances) through dozens of posters in Rome. . . .

Putin’s far-right government is eager to co-operate with any European ultranationalist party unless it is critical of Russia for historical or other reasons. . . .

Second, as the ideological approach of the majority of the European ‘observers’ at the Crimean ‘referendum’ demonstrated, right-wing extremists are the main pool of EU-based politicians who can legitimise Russian actions domestically and internationally. When reporting on the work of the international ‘observers’, the Russian state media never mentioned their ideological positions. On the contrary, they were presented in a boringly neutral way: FPÖ’s Johann Gudenus was simply ‘an MP from Austria’, Front National’s Aymeric Chauprade – ‘a political scientist’, neo-Nazi Enrique Ravello – ‘an observer from Catalunya’, etc. These trivial representations were needed to reassure the Russian audience that the Crimean ‘referendum’ was perfectly legitimate. . . .

The only exception is Slovenia where the far-right Slovenska Nacionalna Stranka is insignificant, and the current political establishment is democratic and pro-EU. . . .

http://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/anton-shekhovtsov/kremlin%E2%80%99s-marriage-of-convenience-with-european-far-right

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