28 October 2014

Vladimir Zhirinovsky's contacts with the European far right in the Yeltsin era

[This post is part of my ongoing research on the cooperation between post-Soviet Russia and the European/American far right. The fully referenced version of this post will appear in a published work, so all the links/footnotes/endnotes are deliberately omitted.]

In the Yeltsin era, the contacts between Russian politicians and the European/American far right were scarce. One could focus on four major areas of these contacts established by (1) Aleksandr Dugin, (2) Sergey Glazyev, (3) Pavel Tulaev, and (4) Vladimir Zhirinovsky.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the leader of the misleadingly named far right Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) tried to forge relationships with European radical right-wing parties already in the early 1990s. Eduard Limonov of the National-Bolshevik Party, while living in France, introduced Zhirinovsky, in autumn 1992, to Jean-Marie Le Pen, contemporary leader of the Front National (FN). Their meeting turned out to be beneficial to Zhirinovsky, as later the FN “provided logistical support [to the LDPR], including computers and fax machines, in short supply in Moscow at that time”.

Already during his first meeting with Le Pen, Zhirinovsky suggested establishing the International Centre of Right-wing Parties in Moscow and invited Le Pen to Russia’s capital. Le Pen, according to Limonov, “confined himself to commending the project”. In 1996, when Le Pen did eventually visit Moscow, Zhirinovsky spoke of founding a pan-European far right alliance again, under the name “Union of Right-wing Forces of Europe”. At that time this project was not implemented, but Zhirinovsky revived – and, to some extent, materialised – this idea after Vladimir Putin became Russian president.

Jean-Marie Le Pen and Vladimir Zhirinovsky in Moscow, 1996
Zhirinovsky’s another major foreign contact in the Yeltsin era was the far right Deutsche Volksunion (German People’s Union, DVU) led by now late Gerhard Frey, “the multi-millionaire media czar” who owned and published several newspapers, as well as being the main sponsor of his party. As early as 1992, Zhirinovsky and Frey spoke at each other’s party conventions. Moreover, following the staggering victory in the 1993 parliamentary elections – the LDPR obtained 22.92% of the votes – Zhirinovsky met with Frey again in Munich on his way to Austria where the leader of the LDPR spent a few days in the company of Edwin Neuwirth, “a local industrialist, Holocaust denier and proud former member of the Waffen SS”. In 1994, the LDPR and DVU signed a friendship accord.

According to Russian journalist Leonid Mlechin who spoke to one of the heads of the anti-extremist department of Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Frey provided financial support to the LDPR “in exchange for the promise to return the Kaliningrad oblast to Germany after Zhirinovsky became president of Russia”. Frey himself wrote that “if Mr. Zhirinovsky came to power in Russia he would negotiate with Germany about the return of the lost province of East Prussia”. Indeed, in his book The Last Thrust to the South, Zhirinovsky suggested restoring Germany to its 1937 borders. Zhirinovsky’s readiness to part with the Kaliningrad oblast seemed important to the DVU that insisted that Pomerania, Silesia and East Prussia be returned to Germany.

Vladimir Zhironovsky and Gerhard Frey in Munich, 1993
It seems viable to suggest that Zhirinovsky’s foreign relationships were not exclusively ideological, but also had a considerable element of financial interests. For example, in 1994, German authorities investigated whether Zhirinovsky was financed by the money of the defunct East German regime through his German contact Werner Girke who handled foreign financial holdings for the East German communists and was believed to have helped them covertly invest those funds in Western companies. In 1996, Italian police suspected Zhirinovsky of the involvement in the trade of nuclear materials that also involved Licio Gelli, a fascist activist since the 1930s and Grand Master of the Masonic lodge Propaganda Due (P2).

Zhirinovsky’s other far right contacts in the Yeltsin era included Zmago Jelinčič, the leader of the Slovenska Nacionalna Stranka (Slovenian National Party), and Vojislav Šešelj, the founder and leader of the Srpska Radikalna Stranka (Serbian Radical Party). Furthermore, in 1997, Zhirinovsky supported the separatist move of Umberto Bossi’s Lega Nord (Northern League) that attempted to create a state called “Padania” in Northern Italy. Bossi was excited about the support for his secessionist project received from “the third political force of the Russian parliament”, while Zhirinovsky took part in the opening sitting of the Padanian “parliament” and stated that, were he Russian president, he would recognise the independence of Padania.

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26 October 2014

Ukraine's parliamentary elections and the far right

On the 26th of October 2014, Ukrainians voted at the early parliamentary elections. Ukraine currently has a mixed electoral system (50% under party lists and 50% under constituencies) with a 5% election threshold. Here are the results of the National Exit Poll 2014 (I mention only those parties who seem to be entering the parliament and the parties which can be termed as far right):

Petro Poroshenko Bloc
People’s Front
Opposition Bloc
Radical Party of Oleh Lyashko
Right Sector
Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists

8 October 2014

European far right team at the anti-Semitic conference in Tehran

On 27 September - 1 October 2014, the Iranian authorities held its annual "New Horizon" conference that hosted more than thirty participants to discuss "Zionist 9/11 conspiracy" and "Israel lobbying" in different countries.

While the anti-Semitic nature of this annual conference is nothing new, it was "surprising" to see several participants of the conference in Tehran who are supportive of Vladimir Putin's allegedly anti-fascist regime in Russia.

Mateusz Piskorski and Thierry Meyssan, Tehran, autumn 2014
Claudio Mutti doing the Quennelle salute in the courtyard of the former US Embassy in Tehran, autumn 2014
Leonid Savin and Manuel Ochsenreiter, Tehran, autumn 2014
Leonid Savin and Manuel Ochsenreiter, Tehran, autumn 2014

24 September 2014

Ukrainian intellectual was attacked by paramilitary right-wing thugs in Kyiv

Here is an extremely unsettling message from Kyiv:
Vasyl Cherepanyn, lecturer at the National University ''Kyiv-Mohyla Academy'' and head of Visual Culture Research Center, was attacked on Kontraktova square in Kiev, next to the university were he works.

A group of unknown men dressed in camouflage paramilitary uniforms suddenly attacked Vasyl Cherepanyn in broad daylight in a crowded square in central Kyiv. The police was late to the scene, and the attackers were not arrested. Vasyl Cherepanyn received heavy injuries, including fractures of facial bones. He links this incident to his professional activity.

Vasyl Cherepanyn, PhD of Theory of Art, is a lecturer at the Cultural Studies Department at the National University ''Kyiv-Mohyla Academy''. He is the head of Visual Culture Research Center and Editor of the Political Critique journal. He is an organizer of numerous scientific conferences, public discussions and art exhibitions. Among the latest events, co-organized by Vasyl Cherepanyn, is the conference "Ukraine: Thinking Together", with the participation of Timothy Snyder, Ivan Krastev, Agnieszka Holland, Paul Bermann and other leading intellectuals, and also the series of events during the Open University of Maidan.

While the military aggression is carried out against Ukraine, aggressive young men in military uniforms carried out an unprecedentedly violent attack on the university lecturer in the center of Kyiv. During the attack, the thugs were accusing Vasyl Cherepanyn of being ‘a separatist’, which is totally absurd to anyone aware of his activities. These unfounded and absurd claims, along with accusations of being ‘a communist’, are more and more often used by aggressive ignorants who aim to impose their ideology of hatred upon Ukrainian society, and to suppress any manifestations of critical thought. We demand a quick investigation of this appalling attack. We also demand to investigate the activities of paramilitary groups that use the war in Ukraine as a pretext to justify their own misantropic views.
I know Vasyl personally and consider this outrageous attack on him, which has been most likely carried out by Ukrainian neo-Nazis, as an attack on the most intelligent and intellectual part of the Ukrainian society. Vasyl is known for his pro-Ukrainian, pro-revolutionary left-wing views, and, together, we took part in several events providing academic analysis of the Ukrainian revolution from social, political and cultural perspectives.

I join the VCRC in their demands to immediately investigate the shocking attack on Vasyl Cherepanyn and arrest all those responsible for this crime.

17 September 2014

The "National-Bolshevik" alliance is again at work in the European Parliament

On 16 September 2014, the European Parliament ratified the EU-Ukraine Association agreement, which includes a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement. The Agreement will establish a deep political association and economic integration between the EU and Ukraine. 535 MEPs voted in favour of the ratification, 127 - against, 35 - abstained, and 54 - did not vote.

The analysis of the vote shows that the majority of the MEPs who voted against the ratification of the EU-Ukraine agreement are coming from the far right (46 MEPs), (far-)left (35 MEPs) and eurosceptic (30) political parties. This anti-European "National-Bolshevik" alliance manifested itself, in particular, during the vote on the European Parliament resolution "On Russian pressure on Eastern Partnership countries and in particular destabilisation of eastern Ukraine" that recognised "Russia’s acts of aggression as a grave violation of international law and its own international obligations".

16 September 2014

European far right politicians observe regional elections in Russia

On Sunday, 14 September 2014, Russian authorities held "regional elections" in the annexed Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Referring to the so called "Russian laws", the authorities said that there would be no international observers as they did not invite them for regional elections.

However, "international monitors" did "observe" regional elections in St. Petersburg on the same day, and it was not at all surprising to see familiar faces.

International electoral monitors meeting with acting governor of St. Petersburg Georgiy Poltavchenko. 1 - Piotr Luczak, 2 - Aleksey Martynov, 3 - Milan Šarapatka, 4 - Fabrizio Bertot, 5 - Frank Creyelman, 6 - Robert Stelzl, 7 - Ludovic de Danne, 8 - Johann Gudenus, 9 - Georgiy Poltavchenko, 10 - Márton Gyöngyösi, 11 - Dragan Stanojevic, 12 - Adrienn Szaniszló, 13 - Jan Penris. St. Petersburg, 15 September 2014. (I would be grateful for helping me in identifying other non-Russian people featured on this picture.)

Below is almost the full list of individuals invited by the Russian authorities to monitor the elections in St. Petersburg. The list is divided in two tables: (1) those individuals whose participation in the electoral observation mission I can confirm, and (2) those individuals who were invited to observe the elections, but I cannot confirm their participation.

15 September 2014

A rose by any other name: the World Congress of Families in Moscow

In one of my previous posts and a guest op-ed for War is Boring, I wrote that the US-based anti-LGBT hate group World Congress of Families (WCF) planned but then cancelled its annual meeting (World Congress of Families VIII) "Every Child A Gift: Large Families – The Future of Humanity". It was supposed to take place in Moscow on 10-12 September 2014. Discussing possible reasons for the cancellation of the event, I wrote:
[Following the outrageous annexation of Crimea by Putin’s Russia], the U.S. imposed sanctions on three Russian individuals — Vladimir Yakunin, Yelena Mizulina and Aleksey Pushkov — who have cooperated with WCF, among others.

Since the WCF is, above all, a U.S.-based organization, they most likely decided not to risk harming its reputation domestically by dealing with the sanctioned individuals.
One organisation that had planned to take part in WCF VIII in Moscow, Concerned Women for America, pulled out for a similar reason. As its president Penny Nance said, "We made the decision that we’re not going to Russia. I don’t want to appear to be giving aid and comfort to Vladimir Putin".

As it often happens with the "good Christians" from various hate groups, the cancellation story was a lie. The WCF VIII did take place in Moscow on 10-11 September 2014, but had a different - yet unsurprisingly similar - name: the International Forum "Large Family and Future of Humanity".