Saturday

19th Oct 2019

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.

... or 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.

News in Brief

  1. Macron: Nato's inability to react to Turkey a 'mistake'
  2. EU: US can expect counter measures after tariff move
  3. Almost 7,500 people forcibly returned to Libya in 2019
  4. Puigdemont released after responding to arrest warrant
  5. Commission: Facebook's Libra needs international approach
  6. Italian PM: denial of accession talks a 'historic mistake'
  7. Catalan president blames clashes on 'infiltrators'
  8. US imposes €6.7bn new tariffs on European products

Column

These are the crunch issues for the 2019-2024 EU commission

These developments will largely determine who will be running the world in the coming decades and perhaps generations. If the Europeans can't find an answer over the five years, they will be toast. And we haven't even mentioned climate change.

Opinion

Time to pay attention to Belarus

Belarus may be hosting the European Games, but Vladimir Putin is not playing games when it comes to Belarus' independence. The West needs to get serious as well.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  2. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  3. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  4. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  6. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  10. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  12. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  2. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  3. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  8. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  9. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  12. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us