Russian influence in the Member States’ parliaments, media and business as well as at the European Parliament is significant. Russia has found allies in Europe’s far-right (in some cases arguably far-left) parties, which fiercely oppose pan-nationalistic tendencies such as the EU and NATO. These parties are vocal supporters of Russia’s political system and claim that alliance with Russia would help them gain independence from the economic and political clutches of the European Union. Russia supports these parties because they can lobby for its interests in the European Parliament, thus weakening or stopping any action that aims to sanction Russia or to affect it negatively. The pro-Russian parties have spread throughout Europe, they can be found in Central-Eastern Europe as well as the western parts of the continent. According to a research done by the Hungary based Political Capital Policy Research and Consulting Institute, there are strongly pro-Russian parties in 15 EU Member States. These are:

Austria: The Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs (Freedom Party Austria, FPÖ) with 4 seats in the European Parliament.

Belgium: The Flemish nationalist Vlaams Belang (VB) party supports Russian interests with 1 seat in the European Parliament.

Bulgaria: The Bulgarian Ataka (Attack) party is known to endorse Russia. When Bulgarians were asked in a survey whether they would chose EU membership or be a part of Russia’s Eurasian Union, 22% of the respondents preferred the latter option. The strongest supporters of Russia according the survey are the supporters of Ataka. Ataka currently holds no seats in the European Parliament.

Czech Republic: The Czech Republic the Worker’s Party of Social Justice (DSSS) endorses closer ties with Russia. DSSS has no representative either in the Czech Republic or in the European Parliament.

France: Front National, while against the European Union in its current form, strongly advocates a union of nation states, where each nation can self-govern. FN would like to include Russia in this union as well – what fits perfectly into Russia’s Eurasian Union endeavours. The French nationalist party also wants to see a strong Paris, Berlin, Moscow trilateral cooperation. Among many far-right parties, FN bases its eagerness to cooperate with Russia on the grudge they hold against the European union, namely the pan-national policies. FN also sent an observer to the Crimean referendum. FN has 24 seats in the European Parliament.

Germany: The Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands (National Democratic Party of Germany, NPD) seeks closer ties with France and Russia in a trilateral agreement and it encourages cooperation with Russia and China, advocating a Eurasian scope of interests rather than close alliance with the United States of America. NDP currently has 1 Member in the European Parliament.

Die Linke (The Left) also advocates closer ties with Russia.  They called for a new military cooperation involving Russia to replace NATO. The party also opposes sanctions against Russia and supported the Crimean referendum.  Die Linke has 7 seats in the European Parliament.

Greece: The Popular Association – Golden Dawn (Λαϊκός Σύνδεσμος – Χρυσή Αυγή, XA) is a strongly pro-Russian party. It claims that Greek interests coincide with that of Russia, which thus is a natural ally.XA has 3 seats in the European Parliament.

Hungary: Jobbik has exhibited strong pro-Russian affiliations. There is ample evidence, that Jobbik has strong relations with Russia and advocates its interests. The party supports closer cooperation with Russia, which they see as a potential partner instead of the European Union. Jobbik also asked Russian officials whether an EU member state can start negotiations to be a member of the Eurasian Union. Jobbik is growing out to be the second most popular party in Hungary with 3 seats in the European Parliament.

The most popular party, Fidesz, which is the governing political force in Hungary, has close ties with Russia as well. Because of this, Fidesz is loosing friends in the EU, on whom it depends, and is thus turning towards Russia.  Under the government of Fidesz  Hungary made a pact with Russia to secure loans for new Hungarian nuclear power plants, a deal which indebted Hungary severely. Another proof of the tightening relations is Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán’s speech in which he condemned liberal democracies and declared to bring on an illiberal state in Hungary, modeled on the Russian system. Fidesz is the biggest party in Hungary – it formed the government and holds 12 seats in the European Parliament.

Italy: Lega Nord (Northern League, NL) has close relations with Russia which they see as the protector of family values. Northern League has 5 seats in the European Parliament.

Forza Nouva (New Force, FN) admires Russia, thinking that its model is the one to follow.  The party is not represented in the European Parliament.

Lithuania: Tvarka ir Teisingumas (Order and Justice, TT) is a pro-Russian party.TT has 2 seats in the European Parliament.

Poland: Samoobrona Rzeczpospolitej Polskiej (Self-Defence of the Republic of Poland, SRP) wants closer ties with Russia. The party claims that Russia is a natural ally, a thought upon which they are trying to act. The party is against closer ties with the United States and would prefer their eastern neighbour instead. Throughout the Ukrainian crisis SRP backed Russian interests.The party’s popularity has declined and currently they have no seats in the European Parliament.

Slovakia : The Slovenská Národná Strana (Slovak National Party, SNS) pro-Russian activities are apparent, although the party is not that popular at the moment, others have taken the position to be vocally supporting Russian interests.SNS holds no seats in the European Parliament.

The Ľudová Strana Naše Slovensko (People’s Party Our Slovakia, LSNS) is Euroskeptic and strongly against NATO and a pro-Russian party. It has no seats in the European Parliament.

United Kingdom: The British National Party (BNP) supports Russian interests. BNP has supported Crimea’s referendum taking Russia’s side and also criticized the sanctions against Russia. BNP has no seats in the European Parliament.

Spain: In Spain there is one party which might have ties with Russia, although no conclusive research has been done. It is an undeniable fact however that the Platform for Catalonia (Plataforma per Catalunya), a Spanish far-right party has also sent observers to the Crimean referendum on Russia’s invitation.

Parties open to Russian influence and neutrals

In some European countries far-right parties have either a neutral stance on Russia or are open to cooperation. These are: HSP (Croatia) and EIP (Estonia) – which are neutral, and DF (Denmark), PVV (Netherlands), LPR (Poland) and SD (Sweden) – which are probably open to cooperation.

Far-left Euroskeptic countries

Of course there are far-left parties that support Russian interests as well . The Communist Party of Greece, for example, is a far-left party which also sent an observer to the Crimean Referendum.


Russia continues to bolster efforts to spread influence across the 28-nation-European Union through various political, economic and media means. 

Many parties in the European Union show – at least to some extent – pro-Russian tendencies, and are proactively supporting Russian interests. The last European Parliamentary elections have shown a rise in the popularity of Euroskeptic extremist parties, so Russia’s  fraction in the European Parliament got stronger. All over Europe, and particularly in central and southern Europe, the Kremlin has been making inroads. Russia is also actively projecting its influences in the Balkans, particularly in Serbia and Bosnia.

The Russian system of social formation of public opinion is represented by the “ Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM)”, and also by the research agency “Eurasian Monitor”, sociological service , “Public Opinion Foundation”, analytical center “Levada Center” and other entities. These structures form the basis for modeling the necessary opinion of the audience through the results of social research. Activities of these Russian entities forming public opinion are repeatedly spotted also abroad, in the publication of their research results in the local media.

The social and national foreign influence is implemented mainly through the “Federal Agency of the Commonwealth of Independent States” and “Rossotrudnichestvo “(compatriots living abroad). Its regional offices operate in 80 countries. The Rossotrudnichestvo is a division of the Russian Foreign Ministry. In addition, the formation of public, political and business climate abroad is implemented by the institutions of civil society. This is realized through activities of governmental foundations operating as public organizations. The task of these governmental foundations is to familiarize the foreign audience with the Russian culture, history and politics. The main ones are:

NGO “Russkiy Mir” (Russian World) foundation popularizes the Russian history, language and culture in different countries of the world. The founders of the Foundation (on behalf of the Russian Federation) are the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education and Science of the RF. The activities of the NGO are extended to all countries of Europe and the CIS.

NGO “Alexander Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund” aims to improve Russia’s foreign policy image. The Foundation has been established by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The organization supports the media and electronic information resources of foreign countries, providing financial, methodological and organizational support to foreign domestic organizations.

Non-profit organization “ Russian Council of Foreign Affairs” on foreign policy and international relations. It has been established by the RF’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education and Science, the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs and the news agency “Interfax”. This is one of Russia’s tools of public diplomacy and „soft power” in Europe and the world. The main task of the Council is to test the social climate of the elite and people and form the necessary opinion in the interest of Russia’s policy.

NGO “ Hisorical Perspective Foundation”, was established to finance the European (Paris) and the US (New York) branches of the Institute of Democracy and Cooperation. The Institute’s activities are focused to propagate Russian ideologies and assist the RF in conducting its foreign policy in matters of international relations, geopolitics, history and media.

It is estimated that  Moscow’s annual cost of social and national foreign influence activities is approximately 390.3 million USD.


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