Thursday, December 19, 2013

Window on Eurasia: Kremlin Expands and Exploits Its Ties with Extreme Right in Europe



Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 19 – Recent statements by leaders of right-wing parties in European Union countries in support of Moscow’s position on Ukraine highlight a disturbing new reality: the rapprochement between these parties and Russian politicians and the possibility that the Kremlin is actively supporting them as allies against the West, according to a Ukrainian blogger.

            In a post on his website yesterday, Anton Shekhovtsov notes that leaders of extreme right parties in France and Austria have been vocal in denouncing any European Union effort to include Ukraine in its orbit and thus pull it away from Moscow (anton-shekhovtsov.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/european-extreme-right-and-russian.html).

            Their statements as well as those of others reflect both the common values of the Russian regime and the ultra-traditionalists in the West and Moscow’s cultivation of the leader of these groups, many of whom, including most prominently Marine le Pen who met with Duma Chairman Sergey Naryshkin and Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin.

“What unites Russian fascist imperialists and the French - and European - far right?” Shekhovtsov asks. “Their unity is strategic and ideological at the same time. Putin no longer trusts European mainstream politicians - be they conservatives or social-democrats, as they will always criticize Russia for the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

The far right in the EU won’t do that. According to Shkhovtsov, many of its leaders share “Putin’s attitude towards human rights” and are quite “ready to emphasize ‘the legitimate interests of Russia’ in the post-Soviet space.”  Moreover, they will not condemn Russia for electoral fraud. Instead, he says, they will praise Russia for “’a robust, transparent and properly democratic system.’”

And the far right in EU counties views Putin as a hero, someone who in the words of one nationalist politician “has managed to steer the post-communist, crisis-ridden Russia into calmer waters” and in the words of Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik is “a fair and resolute leader worthy of respect.”

Shekhovtsov says that one of his sources in France says that “the Russian authorities [are now providing] financial support to the French National Front.” Regardless of whether that is in fact the case, “it is evident that Russia is increasing its presence in European societis and this presence is often linked to the European far right.”

Among the examples of this he gives is Philippe Milliau, a former member of the New Right GRECE network, whose members have had close ties with Eurasianist philosopher and activist Aleksandr Dugin, has become a founder of the Paris-based ProRussia TV channel where he employs other far right figures to promote views Moscow approves of.

That Moscow is behind and has funded extreme Russian nationalists in Ukraine and some of the other former Soviet republics has long been common ground, but its connections with the far right in Europe, while perfectly consistent with Putin’s policies especially in Ukraine, have attracted less attention.

Shekhovtsov does not provide the evidence that one would like on this point, but in such a murky business, evidence of that kind is inevitably hard to gather. But one conclusion he does make is beyond question: “if the EU loses Ukraine, it will be implicated in making the European extreme right” as well as that trend’s Russian allies “even stronger.”

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