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