UncategorizedNovember 21 2022, 15:38 pm

The Close Relationship of a Belgian Far-Right Party and Vladimir Putin; Vlaams Belang & Russia

Bel­gian jour­nal­ist Jan Antonis­sen has writ­ten a series of arti­cles detail­ing the ties between Russ­ian and the Belgian/Flemish polit­i­cal par­ty Vlaams Belang. Accord­ing to one arti­cle on the close rela­tion­ship between Putin and Vlaams Belang:

Novem­ber 14, 2022 Start­ing in 2015, Vlaams Belang, led by Fil­ip Dewin­ter, gives full throt­tle to Rus­sia. They address con­gress­es in Moscow. They mon­i­tor fake elec­tions in the Don­bas. They bring arms deal­ers to the Inter­na­tion­al Eco­nom­ic Forum in Crimea. But when Vladimir Putin invades Ukraine in Feb­ru­ary 2022, they turn their carts around — or at least most of them do. Part two on the close rela­tion­ship between Vladimir Putin and Vlaams Belang: ‘I did­n’t see any­thing in Rus­sia that looked like fraud.’ Where were we? Oh yes, in 2015, when Gerolf Anne­mans in the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment decid­ed not to con­demn the annex­a­tion of Crimea. It gives wings to the Russ­ian group with­in Vlaams Belang. From now on, there is almost no brake on love for Putin’s author­i­tar­i­an regime, which in 2014 shot the MH17 pas­sen­ger plane with 298 occu­pants out of the sky, took Crimea and start­ed a civ­il war in the Don­bas. In ear­ly 2015, Fil­ip Dewin­ter, in the com­pa­ny of fel­low par­ty mem­bers Anke Van der­meer­sch and Jan Pen­ris, vis­it­ed Syr­ia for the sec­ond time. Now he does get an audi­ence with Bashar al-Assad, the dic­ta­tor who used poi­son gas against his own rebel­lious pop­u­la­tion a year ear­li­er. After the inter­view with Assad, Dewin­ter says, “Every­one is grad­u­al­ly real­iz­ing that Assad is an ally against Salafism and extrem­ism. From Octo­ber 2015, the Russ­ian air force will also assist Assad in his fight against extrem­ism. Around that time, Fil­ip Dewin­ter and his fel­low par­ty mem­bers Anke Van der­meer­sch, Chris­t­ian Ver­ougstraete, Johan Deck­myn, Frank Creyel­man, Jan Pen­ris and Erik Tack will be in Moscow for an inter­na­tion­al con­gress of the State Duma, Rus­si­a’s low­er house of par­lia­ment. Dewin­ter address­es the con­gress and, with a wall-to-wall smile, takes a pic­ture with the Duma’s pres­i­dent, Sergei Nar­ishkin. Nar­ishkin is a silovik; he is part of the absolute elite in the Krem­lin. After the cap­ture of Crimea, he is black­list­ed by the Unit­ed States, Europe and Cana­da. Lat­er, he will head Rus­si­a’s for­eign intel­li­gence ser­vices. [Trans­lat­ed from Dutch with DeepL]

Read the rest here. [Pay­wall]

Oth­er arti­cles in the series can be found here and here.

Vlaams Belang (Vlaams Blok; renamed Vlaams Belang after a legal con­vic­tion for racism in 2004 ) is a Flem­ish pop­ulist rad­i­cal-right polit­i­cal par­ty. It was found­ed fol­low­ing a split in the Volk­sunie (VU) par­ty after the right-wing sep­a­ratist and nation­al con­ser­v­a­tive wing became unhap­py with the VU par­ty’s com­pro­mise of Bel­gian fed­er­al­ism over Flem­ish inter­ests and what they saw as the VU’s shift to the left. Accord­ing to an aca­d­e­m­ic study:

Since the ear­ly 1990s, the Flem­ish pop­ulist rad­i­cal-right par­ty VB  has been an impor­tant play­er in Bel­gian pol­i­tics. Found­ed after the split of the more rad­i­cal nation­al­ist and right­ist wing from the nation­al­ist Volk­sunie (People’s Union) in the late 1970s, the VB became one of the most suc­cess­ful pop­ulist rad­i­cal-right par­ties in Europe, although its hey­day seems to have been from the ear­ly 1990s until the mid-2000s.

Read the rest here.

Bel­gian media has report­ed on the resur­gence of Vlaams Belang in the 2019 Bel­gian fed­er­al elections:

Vlaams Belang is a far-right par­ty that strong­ly push­es an anti-immi­grant agen­da. Dur­ing Bel­gium’s fed­er­al elec­tions in 2019, the par­ty won 18.5% of the votes – jump­ing up 12.6% from its last elec­tion results in 2014. Pre­vi­ous­ly iso­lat­ed by the polit­i­cal cor­don san­i­taire — the refusal of all polit­i­cal par­ties in Bel­gium to coop­er­ate with anoth­er polit­i­cal par­ty — Vlaams Belang came sec­ond to N‑VA, which got 24.8%. The cor­don san­i­taire was imposed against Vlaams Belang (then still named Vlaams Blok) in 1989, and meant that the par­ty was effec­tive­ly blocked from enter­ing any lev­el of gov­ern­ment, as all oth­er polit­i­cal par­ties agreed not to form a coali­tion with them, cit­ing the party’s racist rhetoric.

Read the rest here.

The Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) announced late last month a shift in focus on Rus­sia from cov­er­age of its influ­ence oper­a­tions in gen­er­al to Rus­sia and the Glob­al Nation­al Con­ser­v­a­tive Alliance (GNCA) in par­tic­u­lar. As dis­cussed in the GIOR report “The Nation­al Con­ser­vatism Alliance: An Oppor­tu­ni­ty for Russ­ian Influ­ence,” the GNCA is cen­tered on nation­al sov­er­eign­ty, cul­tur­al iden­ti­ty, and oppo­si­tion to glob­al insti­tu­tions. Of late, Rus­sia, under its Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, is attempt­ing to posi­tion itself as the leader of the GNCA, and many coun­tries and lead­ers tied to the GNCA are sym­pa­thet­ic to Russ­ian and its posi­tions. In Europe, the GNCA is being spear­head­ed by Hun­gary under its Prime Min­is­ter, Vik­tor Orban. In the US, it rep­re­sents a poten­tial­ly rad­i­cal change for the US con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment away from long-held Rea­gan-era philosophies.



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