Staunton, November 15 – Despite its crackdown on the extreme right in Russia itself, the Kremlin is promoting its counterparts in Europe by playing to their xenophobia in the hopes of weakening and dividing countries there, causing Europeans to focus on Muslim migrants rather than Russian aggression, and allowing Moscow to expand its influence, Igor Eidman says.
The immigrant crisis led to a wave of xenophobia, which many people have seen as self-contained and unlikely to grow into something worse, the Russian sociologist says; but that is a self-deception that is leading many to underrate this danger (gordonua.com/blogs/eydman/podderzhka-ultrapravyh-v-evrope-nuzhna-kremlyu-chtoby-destabilizirovat-es-i-oslabit-soprotivlyaemost-zapada-putinskoy-polzuchey-ekspansii-1428061.html).
That danger is of two kinds. On the one hand, hostility to Muslims may spread to others. “For rightwing nationalistically inclined Europeans, the Jews remain outcasts, now all the rhetoric of such people is directed against Muslims, but behind this is xenophobia more generally, that is, hatred to others. And for them the Jews undoubtedly are others.”
And on the other, the anti-Muslim attitudes of the extreme right are being stoked by Russian political leaders and ideologists for Moscow’s political goals, all of which undermine Europe and European values and open the way for Russia to avoid criticism and expand its influence.
Russian figures like Orthodox oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev, former transportation minister Vladimir Yakunin and political analyst Aleksandr Dugin, recognizing the role the far right in Europe can play for Russia are even “attempting to create a rightwing international like the communist one,” Eidman continues.
The Kremlin’s interest in the European far right is “pure speculation,” but speculation based on the fact that “the Kremlin needs it in order to destabilize the situation, to split the European Union, and to set people at odds to weaken the resistance of the West to Putin’s creeping expansion.”
It is the Kremlin’s “dream” to create a situation in which Europe would be “so divided and weak and which would forget about the aggression against Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea” to “end sanctions” and “submit itself to the Putin regime.” According to Eidman, xenophobia and far-far right extremism are “the key to the solution of this task for the Kremlin.”