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
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
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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