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There are numerous reports about how Russia is financing right-wing politicians within the EU in order to unbalance the Union. But why doesn't the EU return the favor and start funding people like Alexei Navalny or Mikhail Khodorkovsky?

Russia already claims that "the West" is funding it's opposition, so it wouldn't give any more ammunition to Russian propaganda.

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    Removed some comments that were attempting to answer the question, that is not what comments are for. If you feel you can answer the question, please consider posting a proper answer.
    – yannis
    Apr 25, 2017 at 12:52

1 Answer 1

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There are several points in your question which need to be separated.

First, this article you've linked asserts that there is a deliberate campaign from the Russian government which tries to influence the French elections. For this, various subjects are identified:

  • Putin
  • the Russian Government
  • Russian banks
  • a former KGB agent
  • members of the Russian parliament
  • an ally of Putin
  • a Russian NGO
  • Kremlin officials
  • Russian authorities
  • three French NGOs
  • Russian state media outlets RT and Sputnik
  • a "structured group" of hackers "based in Russia"

Let us assume that this is all true and uncontroversial (which it is not), and that the actions of all these subjects are not independent but orchestrated from the top, for which this article provides no proof whatsoever. Then we can already see that structure of the alleged influence: there is just little direct influence by the Russian government or Putin, but mostly over indirect channels such as other members of the Russian Parliament, NGOs, and state-financed media outlets. So these are the channels that we should also look into the other way round.

Secondly, you assume the EU does nothing to support Russian dissidents, which is untrue.

Official support directly from the EU is quite difficult. The EU has a complicated constitutional structure to reach political decisions, and a large bureaucracy. So official support by highest EU institutions, if it were intended, would also face various obstacles. There is an official program to support human rights, however it seems the usual EU bureaucratic nightmare to apply for such a grant, see e.g. the following old example.

There are examples of direct funding of Russian NGOs by the EU, see http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/02/world/europe/russia-puts-pressure-on-elections-monitor-golos.html

Some of the authorities of the EU could, however, take personally a supporting role for dissidents. They are:

  1. The head of the European Council, Donald Tusk

  2. The head of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker

  3. The president of the EU parliament, until recently Martin Schulz

  4. The EU high representative, Federica Mogherini.

I will here deal only with the last two.

Federica Mogherini has been criticized by a large group of the European security elite for taking a 'weak' stance against Russia, see here or enter link description here. Actually, on the list of signatories, there is Garry Kasparov, another Russian dissident. So you see here already some involvement between think tanks and a Russian dissident.

For Martin Schulz, a quick glance on the Khodorkovsky website (as of April 25 2017) shows that there are EU activities, for instance the Boris Nemtsov Forum in Brussels, where Martin Schulz, the then-presiding President of the European Parliament, was attending (see other speakers including other members of the EU parliament) The Nemzow Forum lists as its partners the major fractions of the EU parliament as well as the Friedrich-Naumann Foundation for Freedom which is related to the German Liberal Party.

The main influence into the internal business of foreign states actually happens via such think tanks and party political foundations. Especially German party political foundations have a long history of influencing the inner politics of foreign states, and particularly in supporting the opposition in states which oppose the foreign policy goals of the German government. I've provided already the connection of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, similar connections can be found for other political party foundations in germany. That's why the Russian authorities also targeted them in a crackdown to prevent further meddling into the internal politics of Russia.

So as some commenters metioned before, the western powers first started by interfering into Russian politics, not least by their unequivocal support for Yeltzin, who even commanded tanks to shoot at the Parliament (can one be more anti-democratic than that? Yet, Putin is the bad guy and Yeltzin was an angel in the western press. But this is another story…)

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  • Yeah, the State Duma of October 1993 had been elected in 1990 with only the communist party running and a handful of indepedents. The communists had like 80%+ of the seats, at least at election time (920 of 1,068). I means sure blowing up the armed putchists holed up in the parliament building was horribly "undemocratic". Let's just call it what it was: a [mini] civil war. Oct 7, 2023 at 13:15
  • RFERL has some photos, BTW of "parliamentary" opposition of that day gdb.rferl.org/342A6DE0-9931-48CC-AEC2-702D75AD4A37_w1023_s.jpg Oct 7, 2023 at 13:22
  • Imagine dozens of people with Kalashnikovs [or make that M-16s] took over the Capitol building. What do you think the US army [be it the National Guard] would do? Just fire tear gas at them? Oct 7, 2023 at 13:33
  • Here's the [now imprisoned] Kara-Murza writing about it: "The real issue is that, unlike what its present-day apologists suggest, the Congress was not a symbol of parliamentarianism and democracy, but the last vestige of the illegitimate Soviet system established after the October 1917 coup d’état. It is not often mentioned that RSFSR people’s deputies’ elections in March 1990 were still held under Article 6 of the Soviet Constitution, which enshrined the one-party system and established the Communist Party as “the leading and guiding force of the Soviet society."" Oct 7, 2023 at 13:40
  • "Eighty-six percent of the people’s deputies elected in 1990 were members of the Communist Party. Vitaly Vorotnikov, chairman of the presidium of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet, noted with some satisfaction that never before had the Communists achieved such superiority over nonpartisans in the republic’s legislature." Oct 7, 2023 at 13:40

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