Recently expressed Marine Le Pen’s sympathies for Putin’s policy on the European East crisis had indicated that Moscow has a ground to find a common language and maintain a fruitful partnership with a right-wing political actors in Europe, with an aim to undermine NATO sphere of influence by “indirect approach” and to group efforts in countering liberalization.
Putin’s tactical search for an ally inside EU and NATO has been lasting for years and reached its higher level in a stabilization of Russian-Hungarian close relations. A bilateral support between “undisciplined” Hungarian prime minister Victor Orban and Vladimir Putin is already a well-known fact in European public and an object of criticism from left. It’s perceived as a hitch for EU-integralist’s initiatives on a further federalization and nationalism overcoming. Just like Putin’s underground logistic support for Hungarian far-right party Jobbik, cooperative to Orban, accused for antisemitism, revisionism, xenophobic rhetoric and militaristic manifestations.
Beside that, the Putin’s policy has a wide range of potential and actual supporters on Balkans, characterized primarily as political organizations with anti-globalist, anti-integralist and anti-NATO agenda. Here I’ve listed the most important among them, the political subjects on which Moscow could rely on in further process of undermining the NATO sphere of influence in “soft underbelly” Balkans :
Although Serbia is participating in EU accession negotiations, she isn’t formal member neither of the NATO nor EU, what gives her political elite more maneuver space in a balance between the West and Russia than to her counterparts in a neighbor countries. So, as consequence, there are persisting clear and unhidden political ties with the Moscow, expressed both by leading party representatives or opposition parties.
Serbian prime-minister and actual leader of Progressive party, A. Vucic, is leading figure of intermediate Serbian right-wing. In the middle of Ukraine crisis, he clearly admits that Serbia wants to keep good relations with Putin’s Russia, despite of pressure from EU. Moreover, he have ably avoided to criticize Putin’s foreign policy when protests against Putin’s violation of Ukrainean sovereignty emerged in EU.
On the other hand, there are few far-right nationalist organizations which fully supported Russian’s policy and invoke it’s application to Balkans political and international relations scene, primarily on Republika Srpska case. What’s more important, they ideologically align with political ideas which are rising in modern Putin’s Russia, from Dugin inspired Orthodox neo-conservatism to extreme neofascism. Sympathies for “strong Russia” are openly expressed and demonstrated in public. Moreover, group of nationalistic-oriented Serbs, supporters of far-right, had joined as fighters-volunteers in Crimean crisis on separatist side, what was commented as “Chetnik’s support for Russians”. Few Serbian volunteers were killed in recent fightings near Lugansk airport in Eastern Ukraine two weeks ago. The most prominent organizations of that kind are Dveri (4,35% of total votes in national elections in 2012), more radical clerofascist Obraz and Chetnik Movement inspired by royalist WW2 movement.
These days Bulgarian government is insisting on Southern Stream gas pipeline project realization, despite of suggestions coming from European Commission to stop it. Through this strategically important project Bulgaria is developing closer economic ties with Russian energy magnate under full control of Putin, so it’s likely to expect that growing of Moscow’s political influence would emerge there.
Ataka party – Ataka is Bulgarian nationalist political party which is the most favourable to be proxy for Moscow’s revitalization of sphere of influence in eastern Balkans. Ataka’s leader Volen Siderov draw considerable public attention on himself after his forcible comments about Putin’s confrontation towards USA and NATO “imperialism” and announced political fight against “homosexual Europe”. Ataka is pro-Orthodox right-wing Bulgarian nationalist party known for antiglobalistic and antiliberal programme. On national elections in 2013, Ataka won 23 seats in Parliament with 7% of total votes. Although the Party didn’t menage to won MP mandate on recent EU elections, as its popularity remained below needed threshold, it seems that public support is stable. Bulgaria is faced with a huge economic problems and the worst demographic predictions in EU, what is favourable state for political scene radicalization and spreading of anti-liberal sentiment among pauperized and frustrated population.
Golden Dawn is already well-known in Europe as most radical far-right organization in Southern Europe, often called for its criminal activity and promotion of illegal pro-nazi connotations and acts. It’s, by the way, well presented on national and local level in Greek political scene and surely one of the most influential parties in Balkans. Less known about the party is close relation with Russian fasicst organization “Russky obraz“. As Bulgarian Ataka, but in more aggressive manner, Golden Dawn perceives itself as standing shield against immigration. Also, according to party’s representatives, Golden Dawn follows Russian anti-Maidan discourse in interpretation of Ukraine crisis.