RussiaJuly 6 2022, 17:28 pm

Dutch Far-Right Populist Party to Host Russian Propaganda Event

The Forum for Democ­ra­cy (Dutch: Forum voor Democ­ra­tie, FvD), a far-right pop­ulist Euroscep­tic polit­i­cal par­ty, has announced a July 10th sem­i­nar titled “Under­stand­ing the Con­flict in Ukraine.” Accord­ing to the event descrip­tion:

On Feb­ru­ary 24th, Rus­sia invad­ed Ukraine. The event was imme­di­ate­ly con­demned by coun­tries in the Amer­i­can sphere of influ­ence: NATO, the EU, Aus­tralia, etc. Heavy sanc­tions were imposed. Russ­ian assets were seized. Russ­ian media were cen­sored. The rest of the world was more hes­i­tant to take sides. Coun­tries in Asia, Africa, Latin Amer­i­ca, and the Mid­dle East have refused to con­demn and sanc­tion Rus­sia for what Moscow claims is a defen­sive oper­a­tion to pro­tect Russia’s nation­al secu­ri­ty and inter­ests. What exact­ly is the back­ground of the cur­rent con­flict in Ukraine? So many ques­tions beg­ging for answers. It’s time for a debate!

Alexan­der Shulgin, the Russ­ian Ambas­sador to the Nether­lands, will be par­tic­i­pat­ing in the event, and the keynote is sched­uled to be deliv­ered by John Laugh­land, described as a lec­tur­er in polit­i­cal sci­ence and his­to­ry and author of sev­er­al books.

As ear­ly as 2014, US media iden­ti­fied Laugh­land as the Direc­tor of Stud­ies at the Paris-based Insti­tute of Democ­ra­cy and Coop­er­a­tion, described as a Russ­ian think tank found­ed in 2008 that “toes a bla­tant­ly pro-Krem­lin line while not being for­mal­ly con­nect­ed to the gov­ern­ment of Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin.” The Insti­tute was said to be head­ed by Natalya Narochnit­skaya, a for­mer Russ­ian Duma deputy who also served as the deputy head of the par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee on for­eign affairs. The REFRL report described Laugh­land as “a British Euroscep­tic whose views close­ly match the Krem­lin’s on a range of issues, includ­ing Ukrain­ian politics”:

The insti­tute’s direc­tor of stud­ies is John Laugh­land, a British Euroscep­tic whose views close­ly match the Krem­lin’s on a range of issues, includ­ing Ukrain­ian pol­i­tics. In a Decem­ber inter­view with Russ­ian state-con­trolled tele­vi­sion, he denounced the role of the ultra­na­tion­al­ist Svo­bo­da par­ty in Kyiv’s pro-Euro­pean protests and accused the West­ern media of “pro­pa­gan­da” — echo­ing Moscow’s claims that the demon­stra­tors and the gov­ern­ment born out of the Kyiv protests are fierce­ly anti-Semit­ic. In 2004, at the height of Ukraine’s Orange Rev­o­lu­tion, Laugh­land had also dis­missed pro­test­ers as “drug­gy skin­heads from Lviv” and accused West­ern-lean­ing pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Vik­tor Yushchenko and his allies of being cozy with neo-Nazis. Asked about his insti­tute’s financ­ing, Laugh­land says the funds are pro­vid­ed by the Foun­da­tion for His­tor­i­cal Out­look in Moscow, which in turn is financed by unspec­i­fied pri­vate Russ­ian com­pa­nies. Laugh­land says that “guests from Rus­sia” are reg­u­lar­ly invit­ed to take part in the round­ta­bles and sym­po­siums orga­nized by the institute.

Laugh­lland is list­ed as an “Expert” for the Val­dai Dis­cus­sion Club, described in 2008 by the Carnegie Endow­ment as a “Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da tool.”

The FvD is head­ed by Thier­ry Baudet, a far-right Dutch anti-immi­grant politi­cian. Baudet is an adher­ent of the anti-Semit­ic “Cul­tur­al Marx­ism” con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry and was found guilty in Decem­ber 2021 of “cre­at­ing a breed­ing ground for anti-Semi­tism” over social media posts com­par­ing the gov­ern­men­t’s coro­n­avirus mea­sures to the Holo­caust. Baudet has recent­ly been tweet­ing Russ­ian talk­ing points on the Ukraine cri­sis, includ­ing one recent retweet of a Chi­nese effort to spread Russ­ian dis­in­for­ma­tion claim­ing the US was secret­ly research­ing bioweapons in Ukraine. In March, a Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) inves­ti­ga­tion demon­strat­ed the rela­tion­ship between Baudet, a British philoso­pher close to Hun­gar­i­an PM Vik­tor Orban, and an alliance of Euro­pean nation­al­ists and US con­ser­v­a­tives. That inves­ti­ga­tion ref­er­enced a Twit­ter thread with numer­ous exam­ples of Baude­t’s Russ­ian ties.


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