EU elections this week will likely lead to a strengthening of right-wing MEPs


Pro-Russian MEPs not to vote for this weekend

Some 12 pro-Kremlin deputies are trying to get re-elected to the European Parliament. Who are they and what can be done to stop them?

This weekend, most EU countries will hold elections for the European Parliament. Recent forecasts suggest that the number of deputies from far-right and nationalist parties will increase, although not as much as was expected six months ago.

Any strengthening of right-wing forces, which Russia is often accused of funding, will expand Moscow's ability to promote its interests in the EU.

A little over a year ago, Novaya Gazeta Europe published a ranking of members of the European Parliament who consistently voted in the interests of the Kremlin. Back then, we included 20 European deputies on the list.

Later, thanks to the investigations of our colleagues in other media, it turned out that some of them were, indeed, directly connected with the Kremlin.

So, on the eve of Europeans returning to the ballot box, New Europe publishes an updated ranking of pro-Kremlin MEPs.

We’ve analysed the voting for the entire 9th convocation of the European Parliament and tried to separate simply radical MEPs, who always oppose the mainstream, from those who, for some reason, vote contrary to the pro-European majority only on resolutions concerning Russia.

The Kremlin’s influence in the new European Parliament can be reduced: it is enough not to give a vote to the parties from which the MEPs included in our rating are running for elections.

Not defining, but noticeable

Despite the growing polarisation in Europe, the vast majority of resolutions in the last convocation of the European Parliament were adopted with a significant majority of pro-European forces.

EU elections this week will likely lead to a strengthening of right-wing MEPs and eurosceptics in the new European Parliament, but this will not affect voting on issues related to Russia and Ukraine - the number of European deputies who are ready to condemn Russian aggression and support for Kyiv is very large.

For instance, in 30 votes for resolutions condemning Russia from 2019 to 2024, out of 705 members of the European Parliament, an average of 508 people (72 percent) voted “for”, and about 80 (12 percent) voted “against” or abstained.

Serious splits can only be expected if the resolution related to Russia also touched on important issues on the internal EU agenda.

At the same time, there are deputies in the European Parliament who remain loyal to the Kremlin and consistently vote along pro-Russian lines.

As New-Europe previously reported, they use three different strategies. First, vote openly against anti-Russian resolutions. Secondly, use a softer option and choose the “abstain” option when voting on such resolutions. Thirdly, act more cunningly and, while present at the meeting, simply ignore the “problematic” votes, without choosing any of the three available options (“for”, “against”, “abstain”).

Although such MEPs cannot change the outcome of the vote or influence the position of the majority in the European Parliament, they prove useful to the Kremlin in other ways.

By constantly voting against resolutions condemning the Kremlin’s aggression or repression of civil society, MEPs provide an opportunity for other pro-Russian forces in the EU to repeatedly emphasise that “everything is not so simple” with the unity of European support for Ukraine.

In addition, by making pro-Russian statements from the podium of the European Parliament during such votes, MEPs often end up on the front pages of Russian propaganda media, for example, accusing the West of blocking the peace agreement or emphasising the illegality of the ban on Russian TV channels in the EU.

To identify MEPs and political parties that consistently adhere to pro-Kremlin positions, we analysed the results of all voting for the ninth convocation of the European Parliament - from 2019 to 2024.

The final list included 30 votes related to Russia. Some 10 of them took place before Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and 20 occurred after the start of the war. In particular, in the last plenary session of the ninth convocation, the European Parliament called not to recognise the results of the presidential elections in Russia as legitimate.

Pro-Kremlin. Populist. Yours

The interests of the Kremlin are predominantly supported by MEPs from far-right and eurosceptic parties in EU countries.

Moreover, the “contribution” of each party depends not only on what strategy its deputies choose (vote openly “against”, abstain or simply ignore votes related to Russia), but also on the number of seats that the party has in the European Parliament.

Over the entire previous convocation, the largest share of pro-Kremlin votes was provided by deputies belonging to Marine Le Pen’s National Rally party (15 percent of the total number of pro-Russian votes in 30 votes), as well as representatives of the Alternative for Germany (9.4 percent) party.

However, in the case of the National Rally, the overwhelming majority of MEPs’ voting in favour of the Kremlin (94 percent) came from 10 votes that took place before Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

During this period, Le Pen’s party acted in the most consolidated manner against the resolutions on Russia: there was not a single deputy in the party who would even once vote “for” or even abstain.

After the start of the Ukraine war, the position of the National Rally changed dramatically: in eight out of 20 votes, its representatives, like the majority of members of the European Parliament, supported resolutions condemning Russia. In another eight cases, they abstained. And only three voted against -that is, contrary to what the pro-European majority of deputies decided.

The latest resolutions not supported by Le Pen’s party included a vote on recognising Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism and on the Kremlin’s interference in the EU’s democratic processes.

In another case, on 7 April 2022, when the European Parliament condemned Russian aggression and expressed support for sanctions, Le Pen’s entire party chose not to vote.

This reversal in the position of the National Rally reflects the desire of Marine Le Pen, who was previously called “Vladimir Putin’s Trojan horse” in Europe, to disavow any associations with the Kremlin.

After the start of the war, the nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, on the contrary, almost did not change its voting strategy on European Parliament resolutions related to Russia.

In 11 of the 20 votes held since 24 February 2022, AfD MEPs were more likely to speak out against resolutions condemning the Kremlin.

On another seven resolutions, the AfD majority chose to abstain. And only in the case of one resolution - the very last one, where the European Parliament proposed recognising the Russian elections as illegitimate - did the AfD unexpectedly align itself with the pro-European majority.

It is likely that this change in the AfD's position was the result of pressure on the party from other far-right groups in the European Parliament. But, at the end of May, the party was expelled for radicalism from the most radical faction within the European Parliament, Identity and Democracy.

The reason for this decision was an interview with deputy Maximilian Krah, in which he stated that not all Nazi SS officers should be considered criminals. Le Pen insisted on expelling the AfD, whose party's MEPs also called on the EU to recognise the presidential elections in Russia as illegitimate.

Meanwhile, if you look not at the total number of pro-Kremlin votes, but at how the majority of deputies vote in each party, then the position of small populist parties, represented by one or two deputies, turns out to be the most consistently pro-Kremlin.

For example, in the Communist Party of Greece, two deputies - Kostas Papadakis and Lefteris Nikolaou-Alavanos - 28 out of 30 times did not support the resolution condemning Russia.

Papadakis and Nikolaou-Alavanos from Greece are in the top and individual ratings of the most pro-Kremlin members of the European Parliament.

In total, we included 29 European deputies in this rating, who, more often than others during the entire 9th convocation, did not support resolutions condemning Russian aggression or repression by the Kremlin within the country.

As in a similar rating compiled just over a year ago, the first on the list is Ždanoka. Over the years, Ždanoka’s position has not changed: she does not hide her pro-Russian sympathies and continues to publicly echo Russian propaganda. So, Ždanoka still praises Putin and claims that the United States is primarily to blame for the war in Ukraine.

However, Ždanoka’s luck recently ran out: after an investigation by The Insider, which discovered Ždanoka’s connections with the FSB, the Latvian Seimas deprived her of the right to be re-elected to the European Parliament. A criminal investigation was also launched against her in Latvia - all on the same charges of collaboration with Russian intelligence services.

The era of one of Putin's main supporters in Europe appears to be coming to an end.

Another hero of our rating, whose name was also not included in the ballot this year, is the Dutchman Marcel de Graaff.

In the Netherlands, he is known as a radical right-wing politician: for example, in 2022, he left the far-right Freedom Party (PVV) and joined the young and even more radical right-wing party Forum for Democracy (FvD).

The Freedom Party became too moderate for him because it did not protest against Covid-19 vaccines. This step of his was not very far-sighted: he failed to collect the required number of signatures in order to be registered as a candidate for the European Parliament this year. This, however, does not prevent him from claiming that he has nothing to do with Russia and is still fighting the use of Covid-19 vaccines.

However, many pro-Kremlin MEPs are again running for the European Parliament in these elections.

One of them is Gunnar Beck, who, like the rest of his colleagues in the Alternative for Germany (AfD), was expelled from the pan-European Identity and Democracy faction, although he held the post of vice president in it.

Beck was not at all embarrassed by this: he continues to actively give interviews to Russian newspapers and collaborate with the EU-blacklisted Russia Today. Within Germany, he consistently opposes Chancellor Olaf Scholz's decision to approve the use of German weapons by Ukraine against targets in Russia.

Another example is Maximilian Krah, a deputy from the same AfD. It was his attempt to stand up for the SS soldiers that was the last straw, after which the “Alternative” was expelled from the far-right faction. Krah is clearly not trying to rehabilitate himself in the eyes of other right-wingers; on the contrary, he continues to adhere to his radical position. Like Beck, Krah consistently opposes allowing Ukraine to use weapons from Germany to strike targets on Russian territory.

Another controversial MEP in our ranking is Milan Uhrík from Slovakia. He is running in these elections for the European Parliament, advocating for strong limits on the power of Brussels. Uhrík hints that “progressives” are behind the recent assassination attempt on Slovak prime minister Robert Fico.

On social networks, Uhrík actively speaks out “against the war.” Even at the beginning of the full-scale invasion, he gave a speech in the European Parliament about the “murders of the children of Donbass,” which was actively quoted by Russian propaganda.

Uhrík entered European politics in 2019, running for the European Parliament as a candidate for the so-called “Kotlebists,” an openly neo-Nazi party in Slovakia. The party was named after Marian Kotleba, a convicted neo-Nazi activist who supports the former Nazi occupation of Slovakia and also calls Jews "demons in human form."

Members of his party have not hesitated to openly use the Nazi salute and, of course, are pro-Russian: they support Slovakia’s exit from Nato and the EU and rapprochement with the Russian Federation. In 2021, however, Uhrík founded his own party, “Republic,” which some of his fellow Kotlebites also joined.

Not just radicals

However, the parliamentarians included in our rating are not necessarily associated with the Kremlin. Some MEPs representing far-left and far-right forces always vote against the European mainstream, and for them, the resolutions on Russia are just a part of dozens of other votes in which they run counter to the opinion of the pro-European majority.

To highlight such MEPs, we selected 83 “control” resolutions on topics that often do not find support among radicals (human and minority rights, gender equality, freedom of opinion).

For example, we included in this list resolutions related to assessing the situation with the protection of women's rights in Afghanistan, freedom of independent media in Tajikistan, abortion rights in the EU, and sexual violence. Then, using a formal statistical test, we identified those deputies for whom the share of unsupported resolutions on Russia was significantly different from the share of unsupported “control” resolutions.

Of the 29 European deputies whom we included in the list as pro-Kremlin, 11 turned out to be consistent radicals. They oppose the European mainstream both in resolutions on Russia and, for example, in resolutions on the protection of human rights in Iran or Uganda.

In particular, the above-mentioned Uhrík did not support 96.3 percent of the resolutions from the “control” list and almost the same number (96.7 percent) of the resolutions on Russia

At the same time, 18 MEPs significantly more often do not support resolutions on Russia than “control” resolutions. Of course, Ždanoka was included in their number: she did not support only half of the resolutions from the “control” list (51 percent), although she always opposed it in voting on Russia.

Kostas Papadakis and Lefteris Nikolaou-Alavanos of the Communist Party of Greece are also likely to be sympathetic to the Kremlin. They are less likely to support “control” resolutions than documents on Russia.

Nikolaou-Alavanos is known to the Russian public for his speeches against the demolition of Soviet monuments in Europe - these actions of his are actively replicated by propaganda. The MEP also gives interviews to pro-Russian journalists.

True, in them he denies that he has any sympathy for Russia and refuses to blame Nato for starting the war in Ukraine. In addition, after the full-scale invasion, his party severed its previously maintained ties with the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. Nikolaou-Alavanos explains his votes, which run counter to the pro-European majority on Russia and Ukraine, by saying that he strives to remain “outside of bourgeois conflicts.”

Hynek Blaško is another MEP included in our list of those who vote suspiciously on resolutions related to Russia, in comparison with documents from the “control” list. Blaško was elected from the Czech Republic and boasts a rich portfolio of outspoken Russophilia.

In the last elections to the European Parliament, he was nominated by Freedom and Direct Democracy, a far-right pro-Russian party. In 2022, he participated in the presidential race in the Czech Republic, but this time from the Workers' Party of Social Justice, known for its close to neo-Nazi views.

From here, but as part of the Alliance for Czech Independence coalition, Blaško is running for the European Parliament in this year’s elections. Among other things, the Alliance supports the Czech Republic's withdrawal from Nato.

Blaško is very interested in Russian propaganda: state media often quote his calls for an end to support for Ukraine, and the MEP himself has repeatedly denied Russia’s guilt in the downing of the Malaysian Boeing 777 flight over Ukraine in 2014.

Of the 18 European deputies whose behaviour during voting on Russian issues looks most suspicious, 12 are participating in this year’s elections. These 12 friends of Russian president Vladimir Putin can be prevented from being re-elected.

To do this, it is enough not to vote for those parties whose lists include pro-Kremlin MEPs. Below we present their names in Russian, English, and local languages:


“Alternative for Germany” [Alternative for Germany, Alternative für Deutschland, AfD]


Communist Party of Greece [Communist Party of Greece, Kommouniste Komma Elladas, KKE]


Independents 4 Change party [Independents 4 Change, I4C; Independent]


“Progressive Party” [Progressive Party of Working People, Emekçi Halkın İlerici Partisi, Ανορθωτικό Κόμμα Εργαζόμενου Λαού, Anorthotikó Kómma Ergazómenou Laoú, AKEL]


Portuguese Communist Party [Portuguese Communist Party, Partido Comunista Português, PCP], this year nominated and present on the ballot as part of the Unitary Democratic Coalition, Coligação Democrática Unitária, CDU.


Party “Slovak Patriot” [Slovak PATRIOT, Slovenský PATRIOT, SP]


National Rally party [National Rally, Rassemblement National, RN]; appear on the ballot as La France revient! Avec Jordan Bardella et Marine le Pen

Czech Republic:

Party coalition “Alliance of National Forces, Aliance národních sil, ANS”; on the ballot paper are designated as ALIANCE ZA NEZÁVISLOST ČR - proti přijetí eura!

Party “Freedom and Direct Democracy” [Freedom and Direct Democracy, Svoboda a přímá demokracie, SPD]; on party lists they are in the party coalition Trikolóra hnutí občanů et SPD

Czech Communist Party [Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, Komunistická strana Čech a Moravy, KSČM], included in the Enough! coalition lists on the ballot; [STAČILO!, koalice Komunistické strany Čech a Moravy, Spojených demokratů - Sdružení nezávislých, České strany národně sociální].


Law and Justice Party [Law and Justice, Prawo i Sprawiedliwość]

This article is an English version of the article published by Novaya Gazeta Europe. Earlier this year we also published an investigation which analyses European Parliament vote results from the past four years to uncover who defends the Kremlin's interests in Brussels, how they do it, and why.

Author Bio

Vitovt Kopytok, Mikhail Komin, and Andrey Smolyakov are reporters from Novaya Gazeta Europe.

EU elections this week will likely lead to a strengthening of right-wing MEPs


Author Bio

Vitovt Kopytok, Mikhail Komin, and Andrey Smolyakov are reporters from Novaya Gazeta Europe.


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