As Russia Invades Ukraine, the Kremlin’s Far Right Allies Meet in Yalta
Conference unites rebel leaders and European neo-fascist groups
As thousands of Russian troops enter the war in eastern Ukraine, a coalition of pro-Russian separatists, Kremlin officials and far right politicos from across Europe are meeting in the Crimean city of Yalta.
The meeting in Yalta this weekend—called “Russia, Ukraine, New Russia: Global Problems and Challenges” is something of an inversion of the 1945 Yalta Conference, which brought together the Allied powers to reorganize Europe after the defeat of Nazi Germany.
Today, the Russian-led version is discussing how to carve up Ukraine.
This version also includes a slew of European far right and neo-fascist political parties, according to a guest list which was posted—and then removed—from a Facebook page for press announcements in the Russian-occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea.
While many of the individuals present are to the political right of Pres. Vladimir Putin, there is at least one close Putin adviser present. It’s another example of budding ties between the Kremlin and European populist and far right parties, united out of a shared opposition to the European Union.
First of all, there’s the separatists. Part-time war reenactor and former Donetsk People’s Republic defense minister Igor Strelkov is on the list. He’s joined by Alexander Borodai, the self-proclaimed prime minister of the DPR.
Alexey Anpilogov, the head of the Novorossiya central committee, joins Strelkov and Borodai. Novorossiya, or New Russia, a Russian name for the war-torn eastern region of Ukraine. Anpilogov’s organization represents a political union of the separatist DPR and the Luhansk People’s Republic.
Then there’s the European far right parties. Ten parties have invited representatives at the conference. Some of the most extreme include Nick Griffin—the president of the neo-Nazi British National Party—and Pavel Chernev of the Nationalist Party of Bulgaria, which aims to wipe out all “foreign and alien immigrant scum” in Bulgaria.
It’s some company the separatists keep. Other guests include Bartosz Bekier of the Polish Falanga—an anti-Semitic, far right party—and Roberto Fiore of the Italian neo-fascist New Force party.
There’s more. Two other far right parties present include the Self-Defense of the Republic of Poland—a conservative Euroskeptic group—and Vlaams Belang, a Flemish-Belgian far right separatist party. Last but not least, Swedish writer Israel Shamir—a pseudonymous Holocaust denier and Pol Pot supporter—is on the list.
The conference also hosts Sergey Glazyev, a close Putin adviser who is among the list of officials the Obama administration designated for sanctions.
Glazyev is a presidential appointee working on the Eurasian Customs Union—a Moscow-based economic counterweight to the EU. The Interpreter translated some of Glazyev’s comments at the meeting, which included support for bringing an independent Novorossiya into the union. “If the Donbass can defend its sovereignty,” he said.
Journalists from the ardently pro-Kremlin broadsheet newspaper Izvestia, the Web site Pravda.ru and the state-owned news agency RIA Novosti were also present, according to the invitees list.
Conferences might seem blasé, but they are an important means for activists, organizers and academics to meet and share ideas. The Russian-Ukrainian war is a conflict that’s being fought across Europe and the world in the political arena. This particular conference is how a prominent—and toxic—transnational group of the Kremlin’s supporters gather.
There’s more to come. On Aug. 29, Buzzfeed’s Rosie Gray reported on an upcoming conference in Hungary that brings together far-right Russian activists—including the neo-fascist ideologue Alexander Dugin—and American white nationalist Richard Spencer.