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.
Table 1. Individuals who participated in the electoral observation mission.

Fabrizio Bertot
member of the right-wing Forza Italia
Frank Creyelman
member of the extreme right Vlaams Belang
Ludovic de Danne
member of the radical right-wing populist National Front
Johann Gudenus
member of the radical right-wing populist Freedom Party of Austria
Márton Gyöngyösi
member of right-wing extremist Jobbik
Piotr Luczak
member of left-wing Die Linke
Jan Penris
member of the extreme right Vlaams Belang
Mateusz Piskorski
president of the European Centre for Geopolitical Analysis
Milan Šarapatka
Czech Republic
member of the right-wing populist Dawn of Direct Democracy
Ewald Stadler
leader of the Reform Conservatives
Robert Stelzl
member of the Reform Conservatives
Adrienn Szaniszló
member of right-wing extremist Jobbik
Marian Szołucha
vice president of the European Centre for Geopolitical Analysis

Table 2. Individuals invited to monitor the elections; participation unconfirmed.

Hikmat Al-Sabty
left-wing Die Linke
Valerio Cignetti
Secretary General of the Alliance of European National Movements
Matthew Crosston
Bellevue University
Angel Djambazki
far right Bulgarian National Movement
Johannes Hübner
member of the radical right-wing populist Freedom Party of Austria
Adam Krzysztof Kępiński
member of the left-wing Democratic Left Alliance
Béla Kovács
extreme right Jobbik

Mateusz Piskorski and Fabrizio Bertot as observers at the regional elections in St. Peterburg, 14 September 2014
As seen from the lists, the overwhelming majority of the monitors are EU-based far right politicians. At the same time, it is no longer surprising that German, allegedly left-wing Die Linke continues to collaborate with the European far right.

With the exception of Matthew Crosston, Angel Djambazki, Ludovic de Danne and Marian Szołucha, all the monitors who either took part in the electoral observation mission in St. Petersburg or were at least invited to take part in it were "observers" at the illegal "referendum" in the Crimea in March 2014. Djambazki, however, was invited to participate in the international conference called "Russia, Ukraine, New Russia: global problems and challenges" on 29-31 August 2014 in Yalta (I cannot confirm his participation, however).

Hence, this is almost a regular pool of individuals who are invited to legitimise controversial or unfair elections. Their coordinator this time has been Mateusz Piskorski, former member of neo-Nazi Niklot movement and former member of the far right Samooborona party. Since 2007, he has been the head of the European Centre for Geopolitical Analysis that specialises in legitimising controversial elections in Eastern Europe and Asia.

Mateusz Piskorski, coordinator of the electoral observation mission, at the meeting with Georgiy Poltavchenko. St. Petersburg, 15 September 2014
The results of the observation mission controlled by the Putin-friendly far right were predictable:

Frank Creyelman: "The elections were transparent and well-organised. The elections were conducted to the highest European level [...]. We could not, although we tried, find any violations of the European standards. I want to stress that Belgium has much to learn from Russia".

Ludovic de Danne: "In comparison to Paris, the elections in St. Petersburg are better organised. We would like to communicate to all the members of the European parliament about the high level of the organisation and conduct of the elections in your city".

Johan Gudenus (who probably did not even leave Russia after the World Congress of Families in Moscow): "Democracy is splendid. But it does not have standards; it should take into account local peculiarities. We are satisfied with how prudently and efficiently the standards of democracy are interpreted in your country".

Johan Gudenus (left) shaking hands with Georgiy Poltavchenko. St. Petersburg, 15 September 2014
And here is one example how "prudently and efficiently the standards of democracy are interpreted" in Russia:

Gudenus would say that these were simply "local peculiarities".

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  1. if it still matters, the person in the second row on the right with a red tie is Márton Gyöngyösi Hungarian MP of Jobbik, he is known for his suggestion back in 2012 to list all the MP's and Members of the Government with a jewish origin for security reasons. Next to him on re right is Adrienn Szaniszló i think his assistant

    1. Thanks a lot! This is very helpful indeed.
      Adrienn Szaniszlo is sometimes presented as Jobbik's Secretary of Russian-Hungarian Relations.


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