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Europe's Extreme Right And Left United In Support Of Putin

The Russian leader's propaganda machine attracts all sorts of extremist movements in the European Union, on both sides of the political spectrum.

Vona Gabor, leader of Hungary's far-right Jobbik party
Vona Gabor, leader of Hungary's far-right Jobbik party
Richard Herzinger


BERLIN — It is something George Orwell himself never would have imagined. Vladimir Putin’s propaganda machine justified Russian aggression in Ukraine by saying they had to defend themselves against Kiev’s “fascists” and anti-Semites. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov even recently condemned the European Union for what he claimed were rising racist tendencies among member states.

In reality, the Kremlin maintains excellent relations with far-right groups in these very same states. From the National Front in France to the Belgian Vlaams Belang and the neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic Jobbik Party in Hungary, all have firmly come down on Russia’s side in the Ukraine crisis. And Putin is demonstrating how to effectively, and utterly without scruples, use nationalist politics against hated supranational powers such as the United States and the EU.

What’s more, the Russian leader is presenting himself as the protector of the “Christian West” from Western “immorality.”

Putin’s annexation policy in the name of reclaiming Russian territory closely follows the ideology of “Neo-Eurasianism” developed by the “national Bolshevik” Alexander Dugin. This theory was directly inspired by the ethnic and nationalistic ideas of the Western European “New Right” — an extremist school of thought that started in the 1970s, finding its bases in the traditions of the German Weimar Republic’s “Conservative Revolution.”

It dreamed of an alliance between German nationalism and Bolshevism — a sort of nationalistic uprising against the advances of Western liberalism and universalism.

Joining extreme forces against the West

Putin’s combination of ambition, ethnic nationalism and a Soviet cult revival shows how the old dream of the left and right joining forces against the West is becoming reality. Even fringe Western European far-right extremists are following the lead, sensing an opportunity to realize their goal of “re-nationalizing” Europe — this time with the political and ideological backing of a major power.

Germany’s right-wing National Democratic Party (NPD) wants very much to hop on that bandwagon.

This could have been a source of disaster, since it forged ties last year with the radical and nationalist Swoboda Party in Ukraine. But the group is now markedly pro-EU, going over to the pro-West Ukrainian interim government after the collapse of the Yanukovych regime in February.

Paying lip service to the “national identity and sovereignty” of Ukraine, leaders of the NPD had to wriggle out of the bond, only to speak out all the more vehemently against Ukraine’s potential EU — not to mention NATO — membership. “A spiritual and national renaissance of Europe can only be built on the foundation of strong Russo-German friendship,” they insisted.

The NPD has unreservedly swung over to the Russian propaganda line. It now castigates “criminals” in the “illegal” Ukrainian regime, and condemns the “escalation strategy of the West.” It now calls itself the “Peace Party 2014,” playing on the widespread fear of war in Germany.

By announcing an “across-the-board new German opposition movement,” the NPD wants to be perceived as a “decent, but visible” force. Their agitation against “NATO war politics” is actually quite indistinguishable from the old leftist “anti-imperialist” stance. Loyalty to Moscow was never affected by the collapse of Soviet communism.

In the same boat for Putin

Putin’s “nationalist and bolshevik” double track makes it possible for both fascists and anti-fascists to identify with his propaganda. Germany’s leftist party often likes to call itself the spearhead of the fight against “extremist right and right-wing populist parties,” but when it comes to Putin, they’re all in the same boat.

Of course, the left doesn’t take any side in the Ukraine crisis — rhetorically. In the end, it is opposed to every attempt by the West to stop the Russian annexation policy. The ultimate goal remains the dissolution of Western alliances.

The EU, according to German left-wing politician Katja Kipping, should adopt “the role of a non-aligned power” and free itself “from their vassal’s loyalty to the United States.”

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Kipping, on Germany's far-left flank denounces EU policy on Russia — Photo: Die Link

This new neutrality perspective is attractive in the context of the Ukraine crisis, not only to extremists but also to those in the middle of the political spectrum. Yet it is not accurate to lump moderate people who have a certain “understanding” of Putin’s strategy yet still believe in democracy together with those espousing extremist ideologies.

These people in the middle should, however, pay more attention to one fact. Putin is not only following “sober-minded” geopolitical demands — he is now serving up a new ideological brew that not only enforces conformity in Russian society, but also fuels anti-democratic forces in the West.

Russian propaganda is trying to disguise authoritarian policies as nobles motives. Putin is to use the anniversary of the end of World War II to compare his current annexation campaign with the fight against Nazi barbarism — possibly with a triumphant appearance in Crimea.

It is in this context that a Russian law now makes Holocaust denial punishable. This decision would be a welcome idea to fight anti-Semitism if the same law didn’t also forbid “wrong representations of the role the Soviet Union played in the Second World War.” This opens the door for quashing any voice criticizing the myth of Soviet anti-fascism.

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The Last Boss: Messina Denaro's Death Marks The End Of An Era For The Sicilian Mafia

Eight months after being arrested, following 30 years on the run, Matteo Messina Denaro died Monday. The son of a mobster and successor of Sicily's notorious boss of bosses, he had tried to transform Cosa Nostra into a modern criminal enterprise — with only partial success.

photo of Matteo Messina Denaro

Matteo Messina Denaro after his arrest

Carabinieri handout via ZUMA
La Stampa Staff

Updated Sep. 25, 2023 at 4:45 p.m.


PALERMO — Matteo Messina Denaro, who for more than a decade was the Sicilian Mafia's "boss of bosses," died on Monday in an Italian hospital prison ward. His death came eight months after being captured following decades on the run as a fugitive from justice. His arrest in January 15, 1993, came almost 30 years to the day after Totò Riina, then the undisputed head of the Corleone clan, was captured in Palermo.

Tracing back in time, Messina Denaro began his criminal ascent in 1989, around the first time on record that he was reported for mob association for his participation in the feud between the Accardo and Ingoglia clans.

At the time, Messina Denaro's father, 'don Ciccio', was the Mafia boss in the western Sicilian city of Trapani — and at only 20 years of age, the ambitious young criminal became Totò Riina's protégé. He would go on to help transform Cosa Nostra, tearing it away from the feudal tradition and catapulting it into the world of would-be legitimate business affairs.

For 30 years he managed to evade capture. He had chosen the path of ‘essential communication’: a few short pizzini - small slips of paper used by the Sicilian Mafia for high-level communications - without compromising information by telephone or digital means.

“Never write the name of the person you are addressing," Messina Denaro told his underlings. "Don’t talk in cars because there could be bugs, always discuss in the open and away from telephones. Also, take off your watches.”

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