US media reported last week on leaked emails and documents that show how closely a Russian influence group is cooperating with a host of far-right politicians and activists in Europe. According to the leaks, Tsargrad, an oligarch-backed Russian organization that seeks to “revive the greatness of the Russian Empire,” has been in close contact with senior far-right politicians in Italy, France, Germany, and Austria. According to a report by New Lines Magazine:
March 24, 2022 The documents and digital correspondence […] offer documentary evidence of just how much a major European party known for its racist and xenophobic politics has relied on financing and strategic political support from a key proxy and influence peddler of the Kremlin. As Moscow rounds out its first month of an illicit war in Ukraine undertaken on a flimsy pretext of “de-Nazification,” these communications show it is thoroughly aligned with a host of extremist right-wing politicians and activists throughout Europe who come far closer to satisfying the definition of fascism than does the embattled government in Kyiv. […] Tsargrad and its officers in Moscow continued to act as the far-right parties’ contacts in Russia. They undertook clandestine measures to hide liaisons between European politicians and Aleksandr Dugin, Russia’s guru-esque philosopher of Eurasianism and an outspoken, longtime proponent of a Russian conquest of Ukraine. In some cases, the far-right parties sought advice from what they called their “Russian friends” to hinder anti-Russian proposals in the European Parliament. Tsargrad also served as an intermediary between the parties and Russia’s high-ranking politicians. One plan cooked up by the organization in March 2021 envisaged establishing a network to be known as “Altintern” […]. Among those slated to join were the constituents of the Democracy and Identity movement, which holds 64 of the 705 seats in the European Parliament and consists of members of the League and the National Rally, formerly known as the National Front, France’s reactionary and chauvinistic party headed by Marine Le Pen.
Read the rest here.
According to the report, internal Tsargrad documents stated that “without our active engagement and tangible support for the European conservative parties, their popularity and influence in Europe will continue to wane.” Tsargrad activities to support and influence far-right political parties in Europe have included:
- A plan to hold a convention in the fall of 2019 in St. Petersburg where leaders of the European Parliament’s freshly created far-right Identity and Democracy faction would be invited
- Organizing clandestine meetings to hide liaisons between European politicians and Russian politicians and leaders such as the US designated Aleksander Dugin, an influential Russian academic known for promoting Eurasianism.
- Efforts to kickstart the creation of a pan-European network of far-right parties called “Altintern.”
- Making amendments for different motions to be presented to either the European Parliament or national legislatures
Tsargrad is funded by the Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev (aka Malofeev), known by US intelligence as the Russian President’s “right arm for operations of political interference in Europe,” and designated by the US in 2014 over his interference in Ukraine. A recent UK media profile of Malofeyev describes him as follows:
Malofeyev gained his wealth in telecommunications during the late 2000s. He has used his power to wage an information war on Europe, allegedly providing loans to far-right parties and funding anti-abortion, anti-LGBTIQ initiatives in the region. His influence empire includes the Katehon think-tank which regularly platforms far-right authors and is “considered one of the instruments for Russian interference in the West”. The US State Department describes Katehon as “a proliferator of virulent anti-Western disinformation and propaganda”. Tsargrad TV is the public entertainment face of Katehon. Dubbed by the Financial Times as “God’s TV, Russian style”, the channel was deliberately designed to mimic Fox News and judge political candidates’ views on issues such as religion, abortion, LGBTIQ rights and Putin.
Malofeyev has been described as one of the main Russian “entrepreneurs of influence” in a 2021 study on Russia’s hybrid warfare.
For a map of the organizational links from Tsargrad figures to Russian political and security interests, go here.