Strange Bed Fellows – The Rise of European Right Wing Parties and Russia’s Influence

What role has Russia played in the success of the extreme right wing parties in the European Parliament elections?  There seems to be increasing evidence that Russia has been taking a direct interest in these political parties, even to the extent of providing funds. A number of the European extreme right wing parties, for example UKIP and Lega Nord in Italy, have come out in support of Putin’s anti-human rights policies.  UKIP’s leader Nigel Farage a frequent guest on the pro-Kremlin television network RT and has cited Putin as the foreign leader he most admires. He also claimed on national television that the 28-member European Union has “blood on its hands” for its handling of Ukraine.

At the invitation of State Duma leader Sergei Naryshkin, a close associate of Putin’s, Marine Le Pen visited Moscow in June 2013. It is understood that she also met with Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin and discussed, among other issues, EU enlargement, and gay marriage. At the same time, the Kremlin funds France’s ProRussia TV which is staffed by editors with close ties to the National Front. Part of the the French National Front’s vision is to replace the EU and NATO with a pan-European partnership of independent nations driven by a trilateral Paris-Berlin-Moscow alliance. In the UK, The Daily Telegraph a newspaper with strong UKIP sympathies, apparently has received funds from Moscow to publish its Russia Today supplements. 

These relationships are very interesting in the context of Russia’s expansionist moves in the Ukraine and the Crimea. A researcher has revealed that a number of the international observers to the Crimea Referendum were drawn from European right-wing groups with extremist views and some from parties, such as Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, that are known to have particularly close relationships with Russia; some would argue strong financial ties. Russia’s excuse for intervening in the Crimea was the threat posed by the pro-EU Party, yet Russia was financing a far right pro-Russia group in the Crimea that, incidentally, was visited by Le Pen before the invasion. 

The pro- EU Ukrainian Party cited by Putin as the “fascist threat” had been excluded from the European extreme right-wing grouping; its membership being opposed by the Hungarian extremist right-wing group that is anti-EU and NATO and has openly stated that they would like to join Russia’s proposed Eurasian Union. Extreme right wing parties in other former Warsaw Pact countries, now Members of the EU have also come out in support of Russia’s Crimean adventure. One wonders to what extent these are part of the former KGB network and to what extent they have been the major beneficiaries of the so-called market reforms and are linked to the Russian mafia and the “legitimate” Russian Oligarch mafia. 

Britain’s reluctance to impose financial sanctions against the Russian oligarchs following the Crimean invasion has also to be viewed as part of Russia’s triple-pronged strategy to re-establish itself as a world power. The City of London has become one of the main centres for laundering the ill-gained fortunes of the oligarchs, most of whom are supported by the Russian Government; evidenced by no action having been taken against them to retrieve their fortunes. 

Russia’s aim to re-establish the former Soviet Union is underpinned by a clever strategy that combines funding extremist right wing groups to gain power and thus undermine the EU; use the oligarchs to buy into our strategic industrial interests; and to use the mafia and their political connections to cause instability. 

I wonder when we will see photographs of Farage toasting with vodka rather than British beer?