Russia and the Western Far Right

Russia and the Western Far Right
Anton Shekhovtsov
Routledge, Londres et New York, 2018, 262 p.

A review by Galia Ackerman

Anton Shekhovtsov est un politologue ukrainien spécialisé dans l’étude des mouvances d’extrême droite en Europe et, en particulier, de leurs liens avec la Russie. Son dernier livre affiche en couverture une photo de Marine Le Pen et de Vladimir Poutine se serrant la main avec un grand sourire. D’entrée de jeu, on comprend qu’une entente cordiale règne entre le Kremlin et le Front national (ainsi qu’une multitude d’autres partis européens d’extrême droite).

Une telle proximité, détaillée tout au long de cet essai stimulant dont on espère qu’il sera rapidement traduit en français, s’explique par un ensemble de considérations aussi bien domestiques qu’internationales. Pour résumer, l’extrême droite européenne comme le régime poutinien visent, en se liant, à remodeler à leur avantage un environnement hostile.

La connexion ne date pas de l’arrivée de l’ancien agent du FSB au pouvoir, en 2000. Mais, au départ, son régime, quoique déjà corrompu et autoritaire, entretient des rapports plutôt corrects avec la communauté internationale et ne se préoccupe guère des forces extrémistes actives dans les pays occidentaux. En revanche, à partir de 2003, Poutine se sent menacé par les révolutions dites « de couleur » qui surviennent en Géorgie, puis en Ukraine et au Kirghizstan. Ces protestations de rue se soldent, chaque fois, par le renversement des régimes corrompus en place dans les pays en question. À Moscou, on est persuadé que derrière ces mouvements populaires se trouve l’ennemi historique, les États-Unis, déterminés à déstabiliser le voisinage immédiat de la Russie et, de cette façon, à contribuer, un jour, au renversement du régime russe. Ces idées paranoïaques contribuent, explique Shekhovtsov, à l’ouverture graduelle des élites moscovites en direction des politiciens européens d’extrême droite, connus pour leur détestation de Washington. Ceux-ci, de leur côté, essayaient depuis longtemps déjà de courtiser le Kremlin qui incarne à leurs yeux une alternative crédible à l’atlantisme, réel ou supposé, des élites européennes. On le voit : l’anti-américanisme que les deux parties ont en partage constitue un premier facteur de rapprochement. […]

La relazione (poco) complicata tra Putin e i fascisti

A review by Maurizio Stefanini.

Torna la tensione tra Mosca e Kiev, e subito sui media di Stato russi rimbalza contro il nazionalismo ucraino l’accusa di “nazismo”. Su Sputnik in particolare e su Rt . Nel contempo, però, gli stessi media pompano massicciamente vari leader della destra europea che – a torto o ragione – sono accusati di “neo-fascismo” in casa loro. Da Marine Le Pen a Salvini passando per Wilders o perfino Alba Dorata . Come è possibile questa apparente contraddizione? “Nella retorica risalente ai tempi dell’Urss fascista significa semplicemente nemico della Russia. Se un fascista diventa amico, allora cessa di essere considerato fascista. Per definizione”. Molto prima di quest’ultima crisi, questa spiegazione ce la diede nel 2017 Anton Shekhovtsov: un politologo ucraino Visiting Fellow all’austriaco Institute for Human Sciences. e uno dei più importanti esperti europei nel campo delle relazioni tra Putin e i movimenti populisti. Come tale, il 3 giugno 2017 fece una relazione a un convegno tenutosi a Roma a cura di Atlantic Council e Istituto Gino Germani di Scienze Sociali e Studi Strategici, su “La strategia di influenza della Russia in Europa: Mosca e i movimenti populisti europei di destra e di sinistra”. Il 30 agosto sempre del 2017 i suoi studi sono stati riversati nel libro Russia and the Western Far Right: Tango Noir, pubblicato dalla prestigiosa casa editrice britannica Routledge. Foto eloquente in copertina, Putin che stringe la mano a Marine Le Pen. […]

Detangling Putin’s web in the West

Russia and the Western Far Right: Tango Noir. By: Anton Shekhovtsov. Publisher: Routledge, London and New York, 2018.

A review article by Matthew Kott

Anton Shekhovtsov, a fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, is already a familiar name to those working on the far right in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. He has previously written on Aleksandr Dugin and Russian neo-Eurasianism as well as on white power racist music subcultures. With his recent book, Russia and the Western Far Right, he is reaching out to a much broader audience than the relatively intimate academic world of comparative fascist studies.

The book appeared late in 2017, but was mostly completed long before the inauguration of Donald Trump as president of the United States, the subsequent rise of the so-called alt-right as a factor in American society and the twists and turns surrounding the official investigation into whether there was any attempt by Russia to skew the election. Nevertheless, it touches on Trump and in passing the run-up to the French presidential election in early 2017. On the one hand, it makes Shekhovtsov’s latest highly topical and indeed groundbreaking. On the other hand, however, that which are the book’s strengths can also be its weaknesses. As with many publications, the risk is that this is a book with an expiration date.

Ambitious agenda

Shekhovtsov’s aim is to shed light upon the various ways in which Russian actors – both official and figures from the far right – have over the decades attempted to foster contacts amongst the far right in European countries in order to gain influence abroad and legitimacy at home. Right from the beginning such an ambitious agenda raises several significant questions in the mind of the reader: What is meant by the vague term “far right”? How is the concept of “western” defined? And what criteria does Shekhovtsov apply in choosing the various cases examined? Given the nebulous and short-lived nature of many of the groupings on the far right, what sources does he rely upon for this extensive study? […]

Russlands Netzwerk mit den rechten Parteien des Westens

Der ukrainische Politologe Anton Schechowzow forschte in Wien über Moskaus Verbindungen zum rechten Rand des Westens.

Gerald Schubert

Im März 2017 empfing Wladimir Putin Marine Le Pen in Moskau. Foto: AP/Mikhail Klimentyev

Der Besuch von Russlands Präsident Wladimir Putin in Österreich hat erneut die Debatten über Moskaus außenpolitische Agenda angeheizt, über Putins Netzwerke in Europa und den USA sowie deren jeweils innenpolitische Instrumentalisierung auf beiden Seiten.

Der geopolitische Hintergrund dafür ist durchaus prekär: Spätestens seit Ausbruch des Krieges in der Ostukraine und der Annexion der Krim begegnet der Westen Russland mit äußerster Vorsicht und traut weder den Machthabern im Kreml über den Weg noch dem weiteren Kreis des politischen und wirtschaftlichen Establishments in Moskau.

Die aufgeheizte Atmosphäre nach dem Giftanschlag auf den ehemaligen russischen Agenten Sergej Skripal in Großbritannien oder die Dauerdebatte über die Einflussnahme Moskaus auf die US-Präsidentschaftswahl des Jahres 2016 machen dies nur allzu deutlich. Umgekehrt interpretiert Russland Kritik aus dem Westen in der Regel als Beleg dafür, dass man sich dort gegen Moskau verschworen hat und einen nur halbherzig verborgenen, dafür aber umso erbitterteren Feldzug gegen russische Eigenständigkeit, Stärke und Würde führt. […]

Russians and Reactionaries

The on-again, off-again flirtation between Mother Russia and the deplorables of Europe

Jay Kinney

A central accusation in the uproar over “Russian influence” holds that Moscow is covertly in cahoots with the American alt-right, supplying the movement with fake news, memes, and social media talking points. The evidence for this tends to be more speculative than solid, but the general question of post-Soviet Russia’s cooperation with Western nationalist and racialist groups is certainly salient.

Such links are at the heart of Anton Shekhovtsov’s new study, Russia and the Western Far Right: Tango Noir. Shekhovtsov is a fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, and his book is exhaustively detailed in its description of Russian relations with the European far right. What impact this may have had on the American right comes up only in the book’s final three paragraphs, which mostly raise questions and provide no answers.

Shekhovtsov argues that a range of reactionary groups, largely in Europe, see Putin “as an ally in their struggle against Western liberal democracy and multiculturalism.” Moscow, in turn, uses them both “to consolidate the authoritarian kleptocratic regime at home” and “to counteract the growing isolation of Russia in the Europeanised world.” And in some cases, the author argues, Russia wants “to disrupt the liberal-democratic consensus in Western societies and, thus, destabilize them.” […]

Post-Soviet Neo-Eurasianism, the Putin System, and the Contemporary European Extreme Right

A review essay by Andreas Umland

The ideas of [Lev] Gumilev are today capturing the masses.

— President Vladimir Putin, at Astana, in June 20041

– Black Wind, White Snow: The Rise of Russia’s New Nationalism. By Charles Clover. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2016.
– The Gumilev Mystique: Biopolitics, Eurasianism, and the Construction of Community in Modern Russia. By
Mark Bassin. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2016.
Eurasianism and the European Far Right: Reshaping the Europe-Russia Relationship. Edited by Marlene Laruelle. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2015.
Russia and the Western Far Right: Tango Noir. By Anton Shekhovtsov. Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2017. […]

De Kremlin-connectie van uiterst-rechts

Eind vorig jaar kondigde Geert Wilders ineens aan dat hij een bezoek zou gaan brengen aan Moskou om ‘tegenwicht te bieden aan de hysterische russofobie’. Met deze reis – als die nog doorgaat – is Wilders de hekkesluiter van de stoet uiterst rechtse Europese partijen die hem voorgingen en in Rusland een bondgenoot zien. Bouwt Moskou gestaag aan een ‘zwarte internationale’ om het Westen van binnenuit te ondermijnen?

door Hella Rottenberg […]

Martin Dewhirst reviews Russia and the Western Far Right by Anton Shekhovtsov

A review article by Martin Dewhirst

It has sometimes been claimed that many of those who support what are conventionally known as the Far Right and the Far Left are remarkably similar to one another, at least psychologically: dogmatic, narrow-minded, inflexible, opinionated, dreadfully earnest and, in many but not in all cases, lacking a healthy sense of humour. Some of the key words used by people on the Far Right and the Far Left are different, but the all-important style can be remarkably similar. If this is the case, then President Putin has changed only slightly since he stopped being an ardent communist secret policeman and quickly, once the USSR imploded, became an active wheeler- dealer and strong supporter of primitive, obscurantist, pre-modern, rather than contemporary, tolerant and humanistic values – all this without showing any signs of guilt, embarrassment or repentance for his murky activities in the past. Those who organised and ran the GULag, the terror and the purges should, he now says, be forgiven, but should this generosity also apply to the Nazis as well? Ukraine is currently accused of promoting fascism, yet the Russian authorities are themselves happily collaborating with extreme right-wingers when this appears to be a way of weakening the West and strengthening the messianic and neo-Eurasian imperialistic aspirations of the regime centred on the Kremlin and Old Square (the HQ of the Presidential Administration). […]