X

How Far-Right European MPs Act As Russia’s Proxies in the European Parliament

August 3rd, 2021 13:22

Desk Russie, a French web­site focus­ing on Russ­ian pol­i­tics, report­ed in June on how far-right Euro­pean par­lia­men­tar­i­ans (MEPs) are act­ing as agents of Russ­ian influ­ence in the cen­ter of Euro­pean pow­er. Accord­ing to a Desk Russie report authored by Ukrain­ian aca­d­e­m­ic Anton Shekhovtsov:

June 21, 2021 As we revealed in our inves­ti­ga­tion for EUOb­serv­er, Russ­ian cit­i­zen Tama­ra Volokho­va with links to Russ­ian agents of malign influ­ence in Europe was able to secure a con­tract with a French far-right MEP Aymer­ic Chauprade work­ing for him as an attaché. Chauprade, who was at that time a senior mem­ber of the far-right Front Nation­al, him­self had been involved in a num­ber of pro-Krem­lin activ­i­ties, includ­ing play­ing a role of an “inde­pen­dent observ­er” at the ille­gal ref­er­en­dum in Rus­sia-occu­pied Ukraine’s Autonomous Repub­lic of Crimea — a ref­er­en­dum fol­lowed by the annex­a­tion of the Crimean Penin­su­la by Russia. […]

Volokho­va also close­ly works with the French MEP Thier­ry Mar­i­ani and accom­pa­nied him and oth­er French MEPs on their vis­it to Rus­sia-annex Crimea in sum­mer last year to “observe” the con­tro­ver­sial vot­ing on the amend­ments to Con­sti­tu­tion of the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion. Mar­i­ani, a long-time sup­port­er of author­i­tar­i­an lead­ers, report­ed­ly vis­it­ed Rus­sia more than 50 times over the recent few years, and – for his numer­ous pro­pa­gan­dis­tic trips to Crimea – was sanc­tioned by Ukraine.

Read the rest here.

The report also notes that despite Mariani’s pro-Krem­lin activ­i­ties, the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment allowed him to join the “Spe­cial Com­mit­tee on For­eign Inter­fer­ence in all Demo­c­ra­t­ic Process­es in the Euro­pean Union,” which also deals with dis­in­for­ma­tion efforts by for­eign actors.

Euro­pean media recent­ly report­ed about a joint dec­la­ra­tion by a dozen Euro­pean far-right par­ties, point­ing out that all but one are decid­ed­ly pro-Rus­sia. Accord­ing to a Eurac­tiv arti­cle:

July 23, 2021 As more than a dozen far-right par­ties joined forces ear­ly July to blast EU inte­gra­tion, a con­ven­tion­al wis­dom is still that these par­ties are deeply divid­ed on a host of issues. Key among them is, sup­pos­ed­ly, the atti­tude towards Vladimir Putin’s Rus­sia.  That con­ven­tion­al wis­dom is wrong. Among the sig­na­to­ries of the July state­ment, all but one par­ty is decid­ed­ly pro-Putin, and that one hold­out — Poland’s rul­ing PiS — may be just under­go­ing a sub­tle change in its attitudes.

Read the rest here.

Past GIOR report­ing on Russia’s influ­ence oper­a­tions involv­ing polit­i­cal actors has included:

  • In May, we report­ed that a Russ­ian influ­ence oper­a­tive tried to donate over 250,000 Euros to a new­ly-found­ed polit­i­cal par­ty in the Netherlands.
  • In April, we report­ed that politi­cians from the Nether­lands, Latvia, Esto­nia, and Britain were tricked into hold­ing video calls with some­one using deep­fake tech­nol­o­gy to imper­son­ate the chief of staff of Russ­ian oppo­si­tion fig­ure Alex­ey Navalny.
  • In April, we pub­lished an inves­ti­ga­tion into how Rus­sia uses for­mer West­ern diplo­mats to spread pro-Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da and anti-West­ern con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries in the West.