Interesting piece in Der Spiegel on Vladimir Putin's support of right-wing populist parties in Europe. The leader of the right-wing Front National in France - Marine LePen - traveled to Moscow to pledge her solidarity with Putin and as a reward received a €9 million loan. Putin and his representatives maintain close ties with the UKIP in Great Britain and with the neo-fascist Jobbik Party in Hungary.
In Germany, Putin has set his sights on the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), which has emerged as one of the most potent opposition parties in Germany, polling about 10% nationally.
Das Interesse des Kreml hat die AfD längst geweckt. ...Immer wieder sind ausgesprochen Russland-freundliche Töne zu vernehmen. Diese Strömung zu unterstützen könnte lohnen, so das Kalkül Moskaus. Einer der prominentesten AfD-Köpfe, Brandenburgs Landeschef Alexander Gauland, wurde im Herbst bereits in die russische Botschaft in Berlin eingeladen. Man wolle "gern mit ihm reden", hieß es seinerzeit.
(The Kremilin has long been interested in the Afd. (...)The party has been making pro-Russia noises for some time. Moscow sees some benefit in nurturing this attitude. One of the more prominent AfD leaders, Brandenburg's party head Alexander Gauland, was invited to the Russian embassy in Berlin. We were "looking forward to speaking with him" they said at the time.")
All of these right-wing populist parties have a common theme: hatred of the European Union and of the United States. Researchers at the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung have surveyed voters in Germany who support the AfD and have found xenophobic and racist tendencies among many of them:
So reiht sich AfD nahezu bei jedem Feld der rechtsextremen Einstellungen direkt hinter der offen rechtsextremen NPD ein, wie die Studie der Ebert-Stiftung zeigt. 41,2 Prozent der befragten AfD-Wähler, dies waren 68 Befragte der Stichprobe, ließen chauvinistische Einstellungen erkennen. Chauvinismus meint eine Form von Nationalismus, die fordert, dass deutsche Interessen nach Außen durchgesetzt werden sollten.
(In every category of right-wing extremist tendencies the AfD ranks just behind the (neo-Nazi) NPD, which is openly extremist. 41.2% of the pollled AfD voters admitted to chauvinistic opinions. Chauvinism here refers to a type of nationlism which dmands that German interests should be agressively asserted internationally.)
Evidently, the AfD voters see a great deal of commonality between "German interests" and Vladimir Putin's vision of "Novorossiya."