The Political Capital Institute published a report last month titled “The Russian Connection ... The spread of pro-Russian policies on the European far right”. This told how what was previously a Russian interest in the eastern European far-right – in the former Warsaw Pact satellites – has gradually expanded to become an interest in the western European far-right as well.
Now it really is squeaky finger up the bum time
And that interest is clearly reciprocated by most of those far-right parties: only those in Finland, Latvia and Romania are hostile to Russia. Worse, most of them, including the FN in France, the NPD in Germany, and rather less subtle players like Golden Dawn in Greece and Jobbik in Hungary, are supportive of Vladimir Putin and his regime. The study also finds a pro-Russia party in the UK.
That party is the BNP: “In November 2013 the head of the British National Party (BNP) Nick Griffin, the head of New Force, Roberto Fiore and the spokesperson for Greek Golden Dawn, Ilias P. Kasidiaris were on a visit to Moscow and held a joint news conference ... BNP is part of the Jobbik-led Alliance of European National Movements”. That gives a flavour of the kind of parties involved.
But the BNP has declined in recent years, with much of its support withering away, or migrating to UKIP, despite Nigel “Thirsty” Farage telling that his crowd won’t have anything to do with Griffin’s gang. So has the Russian connection with the right in the UK declined? Maybe not: the UKIP leader has recently been positively fawning in his praise for the Government in Moscow.
Farage lavished praise on Putin for his intervention in support of the Syrian Government, whose behaviour has led to literally millions of Syrians fleeing the country and in most cases having to be accommodated in refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey – as well as all the killing, maiming and torture, which has even extended to those trying to report on the conflict.
“Thirsty” has also been a regular presence on Russia Today (RT), widely believed to be a Putin mouthpiece, where the promotional blurb tells “He has been known far longer to the RT audience than most of the British electorate”. Farage has wasted no time in asserting that “Europe is governed not by elected democracies but instead ‘by the worst people we have seen in Europe since 1945’”.
So the question has to be asked: is UKIP really a “libertarian” party, as Farage claims, or is it, underneath, yet another manifestation of the kind of authoritarianism that is practiced, to such disastrous effect, in Russia? And how far does the Russian connection extend? What backing does UKIP get from the Kremlin and its friends? With European Parliament elections approaching, we need answers, and quickly.
And what connection does UKIP have to the rest of the European far-right?