Skip to comments.Putin's Western Allies: Why Europe's Far Right Is on the Kremlin's Side
Posted on 03/29/2014 9:48:21 AM PDT by annalex
Gabor Vona, president of the Hungarian radical right-wing party "Jobbik," delivers a speech at a rally in Budapest, March 15, 2014.
(Bernadett Szabo / Courtesy Reuters)
Given that one of Russian President Vladimir Putins stated reasons for invading Crimea was to prevent Nazis from coming to power in Ukraine, it is perhaps surprising that his regime is growing closer by the month to extreme right-wing parties across Europe. But, in both cases, Putins motives are not primarily ideological. In Ukraine, he simply wants to grab territory that he believes rightly belongs to him. In the European Union, he hopes that his backing of fringe parties will destabilize his foes and install in Brussels politicians who will be focused on dismantling the EU rather than enlarging it.
In Hungary, for example, Putin has taken the Jobbik party under his wing. The third-largest party in the country, Jobbik has supporters who dress in Nazi-type uniforms, spout anti-Semitic rhetoric, and express concern about Israeli colonization of Hungary. The party has capitalized on rising support for nationalist economic policies, which are seen as an antidote for unpopular austerity policies and for Hungarys economic liberalization in recent years. Russia is bent on tapping into that sentiment. In May 2013, Kremlin-connected right-wing Russian nationalists at the prestigious Moscow State University invited Jobbik party president Gabor Vona to speak. Vona also met with Russia Duma leaders including Ivan Grachev, chairman of the State Duma Committee for Energy and Vasily Tarasyuk, deputy chairman of the Committee on Natural Resources and Utilization, among others. On the Jobbik website, the visit is characterized as a major breakthrough which made clear that Russian leaders consider Jobbik as a partner. In fact, there have been persistent rumors that Jobbiks enthusiasm is paid for with Russian rubles. The party has also repeatedly criticized Hungarys Euro-Atlantic connections and the European Union. And, more recently, it called the referendum in Crimea exemplary, a dangerous word in a country with extensive co-ethnic populations in Romania and Slovakia. It seems that the party sees Putins new ethnic politics as being aligned with its own revisionist nationalism.
The Kremlins ties to Frances extreme-right National Front have also been growing stronger. Marine Le Pen, the party leader, visited Moscow in June 2013 at the invitation of State Duma leader Sergei Naryshkin, a close associate of Putins. She also met with Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin and discussed issues of common concern, such as Syria, EU enlargement, and gay marriage. Frances ProRussia TV, which is funded by the Kremlin, is staffed by editors with close ties to the National Front who use the station to espouse views close to National Fronts own perspective on domestic and international politics. The National Front wishes to replace the EU and NATO with a pan-European partnership of independent nations, which, incidentally, includes Russia and would be driven by a trilateral Paris-Berlin-Moscow alliance. Le Pens spokesman, Ludovic De Danne, recently recognized the results of the Crimea referendum and stated in an interview with Voice of Russia radio that, historically, Crimea is part of Mother Russia. In the same interview, he mentioned that he had visited Crimea several times in the past year. Marine Le Pen also visited Crimea in June 2013.
The list of parties goes on. Remember Golden Dawn, the Greek fascist party that won 18 seats in Greeces parliament in 2012? Members use Nazi symbols at rallies, emphasize street fighting, and sing the Greek version of the Nazi Party anthem. The Greek government imprisoned Nikos Michaloliakos, its leader, and stripped parliamentary deputies of their political immunity before slapping them with charges of organized violence. But the party continues to take to the streets. Golden Dawn has never hidden its close connections to Russias extreme right, and is thought to receive funds from Russia. One Golden Dawnlinked website reports that Michaloliakos even received a letter in prison from Moscow State University professor and former Kremlin adviser Alexander Dugin, one of the authors of Putins Eurasian ideology. It was also Dugin who hosted Jobbik leader Vona when he visited Moscow. In his letter, Dugin expressed support for Golden Dawns geopolitical positions and requested to open a line of communication between Golden Dawn and his think tank in Moscow. Golden Dawns New York website reports that Michaloliakos has spoken out clearly in favor of an alliance and cooperation with Russia, and away from the naval forces of the Atlantic.
Finally, a cable made public by WikiLeaks shows that Bulgarias far right Ataka party has close links to the Russian embassy. Reports that Russia funds Ataka have swirled for years, but have never been verified. But evidence of enthusiasm for Russias foreign policy goals is open for all to see. Radio Bulgaria reported on March 17 that Atakas parliamentary group has insisted that Bulgaria should recognize the results from the referendum for Crimeas joining to the Russian Federation. Meanwhile, party leader Volen Siderov has called repeatedly for Bulgaria to veto EU economic sanctions for Russia.
In addition to their very vocal support for Russias annexation of Crimea within the EU, Jobbik, National Front, and Ataka all sent election observers to validate the Crimea referendum (as did the Austrian Freedom Party, the Belgian Vlaams Belang party, Italys Forza Italia and Lega Nord, and Polands Self-Defense, in addition to a few far-left parties, conspicuously Germanys Die Linke). Their showing was organized by the Russia-based Eurasian Observatory For Democracy & Elections, a far-right NGO opposed to Western ideology. The EODE specializes in monitoring elections in self-proclaimed republics (Abkhazia, Transnistria, Nagorno-Karabakh) allied with Moscow, according to its website.
The Putin governments cordial relations with Europes far right sit oddly, to say the least, with his opposition to Nazis in the Ukrainian government. Yet Putins dislike for Ukrainian fascists has nothing to do with ideology. It has to do with the fact that they are Ukrainian nationalists. The countrys Svoboda and Right Sector parties, which might do well in the postViktor Yanukovych Ukraine, stand for independence in a country that Putin does not believe should exist separate from Russia.
Similarly, Russian support of the far right in Europe has less to do with ideology than with his desire to destabilize European governments, prevent EU expansion, and help bring to power European governments that are friendly to Russia. In that sense, several European countries may only be one bad election away from disaster. In fact, some would say that Hungary has already met it. As support for Jobbik increases, the anti-democratic, center-right government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban has tacked heavily to the right and recently signed a major nuclear deal with Russia. Russia plans to lend Hungary ten billion euro to construct two new reactors at its Paks nuclear plant, making Hungary even more dependent for energy on Russia. Jobbiks Vona wants to go even further, taking Hungary out of the EU and joining Russias proposed Eurasian Union.
European parliamentary elections, which are scheduled for the end of May, are expected to result in a strong showing for the far right. A weak economy, which was weakened further by the European Central Banks austerity policies, has caused the extreme right vote to surge. Current polls show the far-right parties in France and Holland winning the largest share of seats in their national delegations. Brussels strategists worry that 20 percent of members of the new European parliament could be affiliated with parties that wish to abolish the EU, double the current number. That could cause an EU government shutdown to rival the dysfunction of Washington and deal a major blow to efforts to enlarge the Union and oppose Russian expansionism.
It is strange to think that Putins strategy of using right-wing extremist political parties to foment disruption and then take advantage -- as he did in Crimea -- could work in southern and western Europe as well. Or that some of the extreme right parties in the European parliament, who work every day to delegitimize the European Union and whose numbers are growing, may be funded by Russia. Yet these possibilities cannot be dismissed. Russia might soon be able to disrupt the EU from within.
To counter Russia, European leaders should start launching public investigations into external funding of extreme-right political parties. If extensive Russia connections are found, it would be important to publicize that fact and then impose sanctions on Russia that would make it more difficult for it to provide such support. Pro-European parties must find a way to mobilize voters who are notoriously unwilling to vote in European parliament elections. Europe will also have to rethink the austerity policies that have worsened the grievances of many Europeans and pushed them to support the anti-system, anti-European right. Although Germany has banned extreme right parties from representation, other countries have not. Germany may have therefore underestimated the extent of damage austerity policies could do to the European project and should rethink how its excessive budget cutting, monetary prudence, and export surpluses are affecting politics in the rest of Europe.
Putins challenge to Europe must be taken seriously. Rather than making another land grab in his back yard, he might watch patiently from the sidelines at the end of May as pro-Russia far-right parties win a dramatic election victory in European parliamentary elections. These elections could weaken the European Union and bring Russias friends on the far right closer to power.
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Putin? Russia? I'm not surprised that the "right-wing" in Europe sees some good in him.
I'm a pro-freedom guy who believes in individualism and small government. I don't think I have a lot in common with the European "right-wing".
Putin greatest transgression was that he performed a nationalist action. Nationalism is the real transgression. The EU elite and the progressive “multicultural” Obama led Left are one world globalists. They loathe nationalism. However the rest of the world has not signed on. Russia, China and most of the third world remain fervently patriotic and nationalistic. what is more this Crimea episode has demonstrated that the real power and influence of the West, as it enters a post Christian, neo pagan decadent era, is in decline. Western leaders have been reduced to grumbling, whining and pouting. That is no substitute for inspiring leadership or effective policies. Events have evolved despite their futile objections.
But “far right” in European usage can mean anything from genuinely far-right (e.g. Golden Dawn), to simply Euroskeptic (e.g. UKIP), to supportive of traditional European or national culture or even the classical-liberal idea of liberty against the multiculturalist, corporatist ideas being imposed from Brussels (e.g. the Dutch PVV). The common thread is being anti-EU, and at very least Russia is the enemy of their enemy.
In England, “far-right” is a generic insult, and has no relation to the insultee’s political philosophy.
Like “homophobe” in this country.
Real American conservatives have nothing in common with the European right-wing, the European left, or Putinism. Some muddle-minded folks here think they’ve got something in common with Putin, but they don’t. They’re just confused or blinded by their anger with Obama.
Interesting, isn't this what Russia has done passing transparency and indoctrination laws against ultra left Homofascists and foreign funded ultra leftist NGO's?
Pro-European parties must find a way to mobilize voters who are notoriously unwilling to vote in European parliament elections. Europe will also have to rethink the austerity policies that have worsened the grievances of many Europeans and pushed them to support the anti-system, anti-European right.
Right, the Socialist will have to buy more votes with Other People's Money to counter a resurgence of moral values.
Although Germany has banned extreme right parties from representation, other countries have not.
Well, we need to get busy and ban political parties opposed to the EU.
Rather than making another land grab in his back yard, Putin might watch patiently from the sidelines at the end of May as pro-Russia far-right parties win a dramatic election victory in European parliamentary elections. These elections could weaken the European Union and bring Russias friends on the far right closer to power.
Unless the EU can buy enough Useful Idiots to vote themselves and everybody else into administrative and debt serfdom.
Mitchell A. Orenstein has a plan!
Thank you for the ping.
Given that one of Russian President Vladimir Putins stated reasons for invading Crimea was to prevent Nazis from coming to power in Ukraine, it is perhaps surprising that his regime is growing closer by the month to extreme right-wing parties across Europe.
write for them.
That is very vague. European right-wing is the same as American right-wing, albeit adapted in each country to the points of the greatest tactical advantage. In UK it is Euroscepticism, in France -- French nationalism and traditional Catholic culture, in Hungary -- similar to the French, in Bulgaria -- if we single out Ataka mentioned in the article, -- it is anti-EU with a good mix of social democracy; in Holland it is anti-immigration and anti-Islamism.
I can see how Euroscepticism might be attracted to Putin. But Putin is very pro-immigration at home. I don't see how invading Crimea, no matter how many Russian ethnics live there, can be viewed as a nationalistic act. The Crimea invasion did nothing but harm to Russia, and violated the national integrity of a sovereign country.
individualism and small government.
Right wingers generally do, but both in America and especially in Europe, we come to see that these goals cannot be resolved without autocratic elements such as strong borders, nationalist internal politics and, preferably, strong leadership.
That is a very myopic view. How is invading a sovereign nation for the sake of an ethnic Russian minority that already had autonomy, a "nationalist action"? It did nothing but harm to both Ukraine and Russia. Nationalist respect national borders.
Putin's internal policies have nothing nationalist about them. For example, Russia is flooded by cheap labor from Asia, with ritualistic lamb slaughter and bottom-up communal prayers to Mecca taking place on main streets in Moscow.
I want to know why anyone thought the expansion of NATO was a good thing after the collapse of the Warsaw Pact.
How many tens of millions of Russians have died from invaders from their west over the last 2 centuries?
That would justify some rhetorical sympathies, but taking foreign money is a risky step for a political organisation. Are they that foolish?
Even rhetorically, it is one thing to admire Russian laws resisting gay propaganda, another -- voicing support for the Crimea invasion.
I do not classify myself as "right-wing" because it seems to mean everything and nothing.
I think human nature is a sin nature.
I do not believe we can create heaven on earth.
I expect my government to protect me from force from others.
I want to be left alone by my government.
I don't think "right-wing" fits me at all, because that word has been twisted beyond all recognition.
Putin recently said he would stand with Israel...
Yeah, sheer left-wing idiocy.
The Eastern Europe practically demanded it and given the events in Georgia in 2008, RF fomenting trouble in Estonia and Poland, and now the invasion of Crimea, they were correct to seek protection.
In truth Nationalism will always Trump Internationalist movements like Communism, Golbalism, EU etc... may is a tribal Animal and like the Totem of his group. Putin plays into this well. You could see it in the Opening of the Olympics a while back—a look at pride in nation. Hitler used it too, as has others. The left (internationalists) hate this. It killed the old USSR—and will slay the EU in time. It will lead to the end of the UN and make it a powerless debating society.
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