The Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) has published the first in a series of reports on global influence operations, titled “The National Conservatism Alliance: An Opportunity for Russian Influence?” The report is centered on a new and developing alliance between US conservatives and European nationalists, a potential means for Russia to exert covert influence in Europe and the US, using Hungary as a platform. According to the report synopsis:
Russia is a prolific actor in the influence operations arena, both in the US and Europe. Russian President PUTIN has expressed an interest in Russia becoming the ideological center of a new global conservative alliance, and European far-right leaders have taken pro-Russian positions based on a similar ideology. Hungary is at the center of a developing alliance between European far-right nationalists and American conservatives that Russia could potentially exploit for use in information warfare. This alliance operates under the rubric of “National Conservatism,” centered on national sovereignty, cultural identity, and opposition to global institutions and representing a potentially radical change for the US conservative movement away from long-held Reagan-era philosophies. In the US, the National Conservatism alliance is being spearheaded by the EDMUND BURKE FOUNDATION, headed by an Israeli academic who had his origins in a little-known Israeli-American conservative nexus. This foundation has sponsored five unusual international conferences bringing together a wide variety of US conservatives and European right-wing nationalist politicians, academics, and others for the first time. The most prominent of these was Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor ORBÁN, who took the opportunity to rail against “the communist way of thinking.” Other prominent speakers have included FOX News star Tucker CARLSON and three Republican US Senators. The conferences were said to have an “apocalyptic” tone, with speakers assailing various alleged left-wing attempts to destroy nation states, families, and local cultures, and anti-immigration sentiments were also expressed. The MATHIAS CORVINUS COLLEGIUM, a Hungarian educational facility, is a key part of the ORBÁN government’s struggle to control Hungarian higher education and the center of National Conservative activity in the country. This facility, funded by a massive gift of stock from the ORBÁN government, has sponsored events and teaching positions for prominent US right-wing figures. Russia has already begun to employ National Conservative themes in its influence operations which will likely find a more receptive Western audience than in the past. Hungary is particularly fertile ground for Russian exploitation of National Conservatism given the existing close relationship between Russian and Hungarian elites and an extensive pre-existing Russian influence network.
Download the full report here.