Auteur: Andrew Rettman
Russia has vexed some of its allies in extreme-right EU parties by calling them “neo-Nazis”.
It did so in a report entitled “Neo-Nazism - A Dangerous Threat to Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law” published by the Russian foreign ministry on Monday (4 April).
The 121-page survey says the ideology of Adolf Hitler “[sic] gradually reappears in some regions of modern world, particularly in Western Europe, evolves and assumes new hideous forms”.
It gives a country-by-country analysis of the EU, naming several “neo-Nazi” parties, some of which have friendly ties with Russia.
Its list includes: the “Vlaams Blok” (now known as Vlaams Belang) in Belgium; The Danes party in Denmark; the NPD in Germany; and the BNP in the UK.
The four parties sent people to a congress in St. Petersburg, Russia, in March, which was organised by Rodina, a far-right Russian party founded by Dmitry Rogozin, who is Russia’s deputy PM and who is on an EU blacklist.
The event produced a declaration urging the EU to scrap Russia sanctions and describing Nato as “an instrument of dictatorship”.
The NPD, last November, also sent people to a congress in Berlin organised by Valdimir Yakunin, a hawkish Russian oligarch.
But in some cases the relationship is more personal.
Filip Dewinter, a leading Vlaams Belang member, told EUobserver on Monday he's “good friends” with Rogozin, whom he first met in Brussels.
He emailed this website a picture of himself shaking hands with Rogozin in Moscow last July.
The close ties make Monday’s publication the more needling, because Europe’s extreme-right parties are trying to court respectability.
“Rogozin is a good friend of mine and I will ask him to adjust this report”, Dewinter said.
“[Russian president] Putin is a strong and courageous political leader and I think we should work together on issues such as radical Islam. So I’m a little bit shocked that this report is now published”.
Udo Voight, an NPD deputy in the European Parliament, who attended the St. Petersburg meeting, told EUobserver: “Nobody in St. Petersburg called me a neo-Nazi or anything like that, so I’m very surprised”.
Daniel Carlsen, the chairman of The Danes, didn’t go to St. Petersburg, but took part in the congress by video-link.
He told EUobserer after reading the new Russian report that it’s “obviously wrong”.
The BNP also voiced annoyance.
Stephen Squire, its London branch spokesman, said he’s “puzzled” by Russia’s actions. “National Socialists all around Europe look to Russia as something to hold up”, he noted.
Simon Darby, the BNP’s national spokesman, noted that BNP ex-leader Nick Griffin went to St. Petersburg in a personal capacity after he stepped down.
“It’s disappointing [the Russian report] but it’s merely a swipe at what they see as the West … I don’t think people will take it very seriously", Darby said.
The report was published in the run-up to 9 May, when Russia celebrates its victory over Nazi Germany.
But it's part of a wider anti-EU and anti-Ukraine propaganda campaign and spends most of its time criticising the Baltic states and Kiev.