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Leaked Emails Show How Russian Influence Group Backs European Far-Right Politicians 

March 31st, 2022 12:08

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.