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UK Brexit Leader Farage Drawing Attention as Possible Russian Influence Agent

March 16th, 2022 11:23

For­mer UK Inde­pen­dence Par­ty (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage is draw­ing atten­tion as a pos­si­ble agent of Russ­ian influ­ence. UK media is report­ing on com­ments by a Bel­gian politi­cian charg­ing that Farage defend­ed Russ­ian Res­i­dent Vladimir Putin “all the time” while Farage was a mem­ber of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment. Accord­ing to the indy100 report:

A mem­ber of the Euro­pean par­lia­ment has claimed Nigel Farage defend­ed Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin “all the time” dur­ing his stint in the EU. Guy Ver­hof­s­tadt, a Bel­gian politi­cian, made the com­ments about Farage dur­ing an inter­view on LBC with Nick Fer­rari. They were prompt­ed after Fer­rari repeat­ed claims made by Farage that the con­flict we are see­ing in Ukraine, per­pe­trat­ed by the Rus­sians, is because NATO “tried to poke the Russ­ian bear with a stick”. In response, Ver­hof­s­tadt spoke about Farage’s behav­iour when he too was a mem­ber of the Euro­pean par­lia­ment (a posi­tion he held from 1999 until Britain left the EU), say­ing he was always “defend­ing” Putin. Ver­hof­s­tadt said: “There he was all the time defend­ing Putin. I found it a shame. I’m think­ing [back] to Win­ston Churchill who had… anoth­er opin­ion about the respon­si­bil­i­ties of Britain than Farage col­lud­ing with Putin.” Fer­rari chal­lenged Ver­hof­s­tadt on the claim that Farage col­lud­ed with Putin. Ver­hof­s­tadt replied: “So he was sim­ply defend­ing the posi­tions of Rus­sia and deny­ing, in fact, Ukraini­ans and Belarus and Geor­gians and Mol­davia to chose their own path to democracy.

Read the rest here.

In addi­tion, Bri­itish politi­cian Christo­pher John Bryant has alleged that  Farage was paid a large sum of mon­ey in 2018 by Russ­ian state-backed media RT (for­mer­ly Rus­sia Today). Accord­ing to Bryan­t’s state­ment post­ed on Twitter:

Labour’s @RhonddaBryant calls for @Arron_banks to be sanc­tioned and cites @IsabelOakeshott who described Banks as an “agent of influ­ence for the Russ­ian state”. He adds that Nigel Farage received £548, 573 in 2018 from Rus­sia Today, which is fund­ed by the Russ­ian government.

Farage sub­se­quent­ly denied the claim, stat­ing he only received “two small appear­ance fees” with both “well under £5,000”.

Farage had already received media scruti­ny in 2014 over his month­ly RT appear­ances. Accord­ing to a report in The Guardian:

Nigel Farage’s near month­ly appear­ances on state-owned Rus­sia Today have come under scruti­ny after his expres­sion of admi­ra­tion for Vladimir Putin this week. In one of his 17 appear­ances on the chan­nel seen by the Guardian and trans­mit­ted since Decem­ber 2010, he claims Europe is gov­erned not by elect­ed democ­ra­cies but instead “by the worst peo­ple we have seen in Europe since 1945”. The Ukip leader has appeared so fre­quent­ly that he is cit­ed in lit­er­a­ture for the TV sta­tion Rus­sia Today as one of their spe­cial and “end­less­ly quotable” British guests. “He has been known far longer to the RT audi­ence than most of the British elec­torate,” Rus­sia Today claims. The Ukip leader did not issue a word of crit­i­cism of Russ­ian democ­ra­cy in any of the Rus­sia Today inter­views viewed by the Guardian. Last August he told the chan­nel that British inter­ven­tion in Libya and Syr­ia would go ahead regard­less of any vote in the UN, and said he was still not sure Pres­i­dent Bashar al-Assad had used chem­i­cal weapons.

Read the rest here.

In the same report, Chris Bryant said Farage was “rapid­ly becom­ing the Berlus­coni of Britain.”

In 2017, the NYT char­ac­ter­ized RT as follows:

Ana­lysts are sharply divid­ed about the influ­ence of RT. Point­ing to its minus­cule rat­ings num­bers, many cau­tion against over­stat­ing its impact. Yet focus­ing on rat­ings may miss the point, says Peter Pomer­ant­sev, who wrote a book three years ago that described Russia’s use of tele­vi­sion for pro­pa­gan­da. “Rat­ings aren’t the main thing for them,” he said. “These are cam­paigns for finan­cial, polit­i­cal and media influ­ence.” RT and Sput­nik pro­pel those cam­paigns by help­ing cre­ate the fod­der for thou­sands of fake news prop­a­ga­tors and pro­vid­ing anoth­er out­let for hacked mate­r­i­al that can serve Russ­ian inter­ests, said Ben Nim­mo, who stud­ies RT for the Atlantic Coun­cil. What­ev­er its impact, RT is unques­tion­ably a case study in the com­plex­i­ty of mod­ern pro­pa­gan­da. It is both a slick mod­ern tele­vi­sion net­work, dressed up with great visu­als and styl­ish pre­sen­ters, and a con­tent farm that helps feed the Euro­pean far right. View­ers find it dif­fi­cult to dis­cern exact­ly what is jour­nal­ism and what is pro­pa­gan­da, what may be “fake news” and what is real but pre­sent­ed with a strong slant.