Thursday

21st Mar 2019

Farage and Le Pen unite on Russia report

  • Le Pen and Farage both praise Putin (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

Britain’s Ukip and France’s National Front teamed up with other anti-EU parties to vote against a Russia-critical resolution at the European Parliament on Wednesday (10 June).

The non-binding report, by centre-right Lithuanian MEP Gabrielius Landsbergis, passed anyway by 494 votes against 135 with 69 abstentions.

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It raises the alarm over what it calls the emergence of a new “Nationalist International”.

It says the European Parliament is “deeply concerned at the ever more intensive contacts and co-operation, tolerated by the Russian leadership, between European populist, fascist, and extreme right-wing parties on the one hand and nationalist groups in Russia”.

It calls the Russia-backed bloc “a danger to democratic values and the rule of law in the EU”.

It also “calls on the [European] Commission to propose legislation forbidding financing of political parties in the EU by political or economic stakeholders outside the EU”.

French investigative reporters last November revealed the National Front received at least €9 million in loans from a Kremlin-linked bank.

German media and the Austrian opposition say the anti-euro AfD party in Germany and the far-right FPO party in Austria are also being financed by Russia, in allegations they deny.

The far-right Jobbik party in Hungary is facing criminal probes on similar grounds.

The parties regularly speak out in favour of Russia at home and in the EU assembly.

They send delegates to far-right seminars organised by Russian oligarchs in Austria, Germany, and Russia.

Some of them have also sent observers to monitor separatist votes in Russia-occupied Ukraine.

The 135 No votes on Wednesday came from the Ukip-led Europe of Freedom and Democracy group, from non-group far-right parties, from the far-left Gue faction, an old friend of Russia, and from a handful of Socialist rebels.

Eurosceptic parties did better than ever in last year's EU elections.

Ukip has declined to formally team up with Marine Le Pen’s National Front, which has a bad image in the UK.

But its leader, Nigel Farage, has, like Le Pen, praised Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The party’s deputy leader, Paul Nuttall, said its opposition to the Landsbergis text was on grounds of national sovereignty rather than Russia or Le Pen loyalties.

“Ukip does not support interference by the European Commission in any aspect of funding for British political parties. Ukip supports the laws which are already in place in Britain which prohibit foreign funding of political parties”, he noted.

In other provisions, the Landsbergis report says EU economic sanctions on Russia should stay in place until it withdraws from east Ukraine.

It calls on the EU to propose additional sanctions on Russian officials linked to the killing of anti-corruption activist Sergei Magnitsky.

It notes that Moscow “can no longer be treated as, or considered, a 'strategic partner’.”

It also urges the European Commission to fund "concrete projects aimed at countering Russian propaganda and misinformation".

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