Russia turns to right-wing parties in EU

A Russian loan to France’s National Front. Invitations to Moscow for leaders of Austria’s Freedom Party. Praise for Vladimir Putin from the head of Britain’s anti-European Union party.

As the diplomatic chill over Ukraine deepens, the Kremlin is keen to enlist Europe’s far-right parties in its campaign for influence in the West.

Russia fears that NATO could spread to countries it considers part of its sphere of influence. And it has rightly served notice that it will not tolerate meddling, most recently with its Ukraine campaign.

Europe’s right-wing and populist parties, meanwhile, see an Atlanticist-dominated EU as contrary to their vision of Europe. They want to see a union of strong national states that do not toady to America.

The fact that many of Moscow’s allies are right to far-right reflects the Kremlin’s full turn. Under communism, nationalist parties were shunned as “xenophobic”.

Statements by leading critics of the EU, or euroskeptics, reflect their admiration of the Kremlin.

National Front founder Jean-Marie Le Pen told The Associated Press this month that France and Russia “have a communality of interest.”

Daughter Marine Le Pen, party president and a strong contender for the French presidency in 2017, envisions a Europe stretching “from the Atlantic to the Urals” — a “pan-European union” that includes Russia and is supported by other right-wing parties.

Nationalist Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban perceives prevailing winds as “blowing from the East” and sees in Russia an ideal political model for his concept of an “illiberal state.”

The head of Britain’s euroskeptic Independence Party, Nigel Farage, has said Putin is the world leader he most admires.

Among other Moscow regulars from euroskeptic parties across Europe are members of Hungary’s anti-Semitic Jobbik and Austria’s Freedom Party.

Jobbik parliamentarian Bela Kovacs is under investigation in Hungary for allegedly “spying” for Russia.

While in Moscow recently, Freedom Party firebrand Johann Gudenus accused the European Union of kowtowing to NATO and America and denounced the spreading influence of the homosexual lobby in Europe.

Shunned at home by the liberal establishment and pro-American media, many are eager to gain air time on RT television, Russia’s international answer to CNN.

For them, “the benefit is that they can receive diplomatic support from a very high level from a superpower,” says Peter Kreko of Hungary’s Political Capital research institute.

Financial rewards are also incentives. Orban just signed a nuclear-reactor deal with Moscow. France is abuzz over the National Front’s recent 9 million euro loan from a Russian bank owned by a reputed Putin confidant.

Marine Le Pen describes it as “a perfectly legal loan that we will reimburse perfectly legally,” saying the party turned to Russia after being rejected by Western banks. But the transaction has galvanized fears among the National Front’s opponents of increased Kremlin influence, with the Socialists calling for an inquiry.

Links between Russia and the right predate the Ukraine conflict. A 2005 US diplomatic cable made public by Wikileaks noted close ties between Bulgaria’s extreme-right Ataka party and the Russian Embassy in Sofia.

And Joerg Haider, the late leader of Austria’s Freedom Party, helped powerful Russian businessmen with residency permits more than a decade ago in exchange for close to 1 million euros in campaign funding.

Putin’s friendships with German ex-Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Italy’s former Premier Silvio Berlusconi were also useful for the Kremlin.

Now the diplomatic gloom is settling in, their strong domestic and EU election showings this year will help further its own interests, Moscow hopes.

Of the 24 right-wing populist parties that took about a quarter of the European Parliament’s seats in May elections, Political Capital lists 15 as “committed” to Russia.

Many owe their popularity to evidence that EU-friendly parties in power are to blame for the continent’s economic woes — a view that could grow if the downturn persists.

“What Russia is saying is, ‘It’s fine for you to be the way you are’,” says analyst Melik Kaylan, in a study for the Institute of Modern Russia.

  • Guest

    From Wikipedia: Haider was closely watched by Mossad, the Israeli secret service. FPÖ secretary general Peter Sichrovsky – a Jewish-Austrian politician and formerly one of Haider’s closest aides – had gathered inside information on Haider’s controversial contacts with prominent “Arab dictators”. Due to Haider’s perceived contacts to Holocaust deniers, the Israeli Foreign Ministry on September 29, 2008 declared it was heavily concerned about the 2008 Austrian elections. A spokesman of the ministry said that Israeli officials were “very worried about the rise to power of people who promote hatred, Holocaust denial, and befriend Neo-Nazis. We see it as a disturbing development and are following the matter very closely”. Haider died of injuries from a car crash just days later. Austrian President Heinz Fischer called Haider’s death a “human tragedy”. An Austrian court ruled it illegal for media to call Jörg Haider a homosexual, after various attemps to smear him. In a confiscated black booklet handwritten by Walter Meischberger, a former Freedom Party politician, Austrian authorities said they would examine a diary that allegedly detailed money transfers from Saddam and Gaddafi.

    • FR2P

      Remember hope dies last

  • Craig

    The number two in the Front National (FN) party in France and closest man of party leader Marine Le Pen has been outed as gay. published an article showing Phillippot on a vacation with his boyfriend in Vienna (Austria). What is special about this, is that the FN is the lonely voice against gay marriage in France, while Phillippot’s partner is apparently (his identity has not leaked) a journalist and gay-rights activist. Phillippot himself has never been attending the anti-gay marriage rallies. This begs the question if there is a conflict of interest, or if the rejection of gay marriage by the front national is genuine.

    • Guest

      There are hardly any real right-wing traditionalist political parties in Europe. Most of them are just anti-immigration and anti-Islam. However, In the extremely politically correct climate of Europe, this alone is enough for you to be labeled as “far-right”.

      Europe itself is already dead in terms of their value system. Their societies are now almost completely secular and atheistic and socially liberal. In fact, the only reason why they are anti-Islam, is because they see it as just another religion. If all those Arab immigrants entering their countries each year were atheists, i highly doubt they would have a problem with that.

      Another problem with these European populist (fake) right-wing parties, is that in order to win votes, they have to appeal to a broad spectrum of their people. And since the majority of Europe is “socially liberal” these days, it means they have to remain neutral on a lot of topics which might scare away votes, such as homosexuality.

      So what you end up creating is a gradual and constant left-wing shift, such that the right-wingers of today, were the liberals of 50 years ago. This is what’s called the liberal slippery slope, and it’s extremely hard to reverse this downward fall of civilization in Western and Northern Europe, where it seems to be at it’s worst.

      Just have a look at the modern day Dutch population and society, and compare it with that of the Afrikaners. you see a huge contrast in terms of the value system of each. Holland these days has become one of the most liberals countries in the world. In Amsterdam for instance, you can smoke drugs in public and order the services of prostitutes, which are advertised like mannequins behind shop windows. And what does the Dutch “far-right” have to say about this? No, all you’ll hear from them is that immigration from Islamic countries needs to be stopped because Islam is misogynistic and discriminatory. Psh, they sound just like the liberals of yesteryear, before the concept of “islamophobia” was adopted by the modern left.

      • anti_banker

        Im not for Islamic immigration into Europe, but they need to wake up to all illegal immigration, not just Muslim. The zionist bankers dont mind anti-muslim immigration as long as its not anti -immigration in general (such as the kind promoted hypocritically in Israel.)

  • When will Russia be funding a few right wing parties in S.A, or do they value their relationship with the left wing, communist ANC , as more important ?