Wednesday

20th Jun 2018

Reports multiply of Kremlin links to anti-EU parties

  • Strache posted pictures of the Moscow conference on his Facebook page (Photo: fpo.at)

Austria’s far-right FPO party has defended its relations with the Kremlin, amid signs of a wider Russian strategy to build ties with anti-EU parties.

The FPO leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, in a statement published on Tuesday (25 November), said “we are convinced of our neutrality and we do not get financial donations or credits” for the party’s pro-Russia politics .

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

The statement comes after Austria's left-wing SPO party raised questions in Austrian media about FPO’s independence.

The SPO spoke out when Strache posted pictures on Facebook of himself and other FPO top men at a high-level conference in Moscow.

The Facebook posts include comments such as: “An end to the Nato-EU economic war and sanctions against Russia … We need and want no new walls in Europe!”.

The seminar - entitled “Ways of overcoming the crisis of confidence in Europe” - was chaired by Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov.

Other guests included Russia’s EU ambassador Vladimir Chizhov and a former German diplomat, Wolfgang Ischinger, who is also known for his pro-Russia views.

The Austrian furore comes after German tabloid Bild on Monday accused the German eurosceptic AfD party of being financed by the Kremlin.

It said - citing German intelligence “sources” and a strategy paper penned by a Moscow-based think-tank, the Centre for Strategic Communications - that Russia is selling gold to the AfD at below-market prices using shady middlemen without the AfD’s knowledge.

But Bernd Lucke, an AfD founder and an MEP, denied the allegations.

He told Bild: “If the German secret services really had such information, then they shouldn't tell me it via a newspaper. We have no indication of Russian interference. I consider these reports to be untrue”.

Bild also reported that Vladimir Yakunin - a Kremlin confidante and Russia’s railway chief, who is blacklisted by the US - hosted a friends-of-Russia conference at the Hotel Maritim in Berlin last weekend.

It says the guests included: another AfD founder, Alexander Gauland; Egon Bahr, from the ruling coalition’s SPD party; and two men from the neo-Nazi NPD party, Frank Franz and Sebastian Schmidtke.

The reports come after French far-right party Front National this week admitted taking a €9 million loan from a Kremlin-linked bank.

The emerging pro-Russia network also includes Hungary’s far-right Jobbik party, one of whose members, MEP Bela Kovacs, is being investigated for receiving money from Russian intelligence services.

Tatjana Zdanoka, an MEP from Latvia's pro-Russian Latvijas Krievu savieniba party, is facing a similar probe.

Meanwhile, another Russian oligarch, Konstantin Malofeev, in Vienna in May organised a meeting with delegates from the FPO, the Front National, and Bulgaria’s far-right Ataka party.

Apart from criticising EU integration and defending Russia’s war on Ukraine, the parties regularly vote against Russia-critical resolutions in the European Parliament.

Ataka, the FPO, the Front National, Jobbik, and Latvijas Krievu savieniba also sent observers to separatist “referendums” and “elections” in March and November in Ukraine’s Russia-occupied Crimea and Donetsk regions.

They were joined by members from the Italian and Belgian rightist parties Forza Italia, Lega Nord, and Vlaams Belang.

Anti-EU far-left parties, including Germany’s Die Linke and Greece’s KKE, also sent members to monitor the votes.

Feature

Invitations sent out for next EU-Russia 'summit'

Putin is persona non grata in EU capitals. But he is likely to meet leaders in the margins of WWII memorials in January, amid questions on the suitability of his attendance.

Opinion

Europe could lose out in North Korean bonanza

South Korean businesses including Hyundai and Samsung are already scoping investment opportunities. Will North Korea become a 'new Vietnam' opportunity - or more like Myanmar, where slow Brussels policy-making meant EU exporters lost out.

News in Brief

  1. PES to announce 'spitzenkandidat' names in October
  2. Macedonian parliament ratifies name deal
  3. EU to hit US with import duties from Friday
  4. Commission: New on-road CO2 test would take years
  5. Juncker orders migration 'mini-summit' on Sunday
  6. Luxembourg gave illegal state aid to energy firm
  7. Negotiators lower finger printing age of refugees to six
  8. EU to lift its internal data storage barriers

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMHRMI Launches Lawsuits Against Individuals and Countries Involved in Changing Macedonia's Name
  3. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  4. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  6. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  10. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  11. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network

Latest News

  1. How to get around the EU posted workers directive
  2. EU needs comprehensive 'sexuality education'
  3. Fate of EU refugee deal hangs in the balance
  4. Merkel, Macron in pre-summit pledge on migration, eurozone
  5. Hungary to push ahead with 'Stop Soros' law on NGOs
  6. Swedish party puts EU referendums back in fashion
  7. EU summit set to outsource asylum
  8. Dutch request to clarify Brexit Britons' rights annulled

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  2. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  4. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  5. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  7. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  9. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  10. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  11. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  12. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us