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European leaders to hold talks on Russian political meddling

EU concerned over Russian funding of far right-wing parties

European leaders to hold talks on Russian political meddling

EU leaders at a summit to be held on 20-21 October in Brussels will discuss the intelligence data, according to which Russia is secretly financing the extreme right and marginal parties in Europe to interfere with the domestic affairs of the EU countries, The Financial Times wrote on 16 October.

"This is a serious concern. It becomes a constant source of concern," a senior European diplomat told FT as quoted by Deutsche Welle.

Although Russia is obviously not the mastermind behind the growth of populism in Europe, it became clear that Russia welcomes it, and in some cases actively supports the pro-Russian populist movements and far-right parties, FT quoted a senior research fellow of the European Council on Foreign Relations, Fredrik Paddle. According to him, the Russian authorities are considering the European populists "as useful allies in achieving their goals in Europe." It is primarily a question of the lifting of economic sanctions against Russia or refusal of European support to Ukraine.

Moscow denies its clandestine interference in European politics, however, the publication gives some examples that cause concern. In particular, it is known that the position of the pro-Russian French far-right party National Front, led by Marine Le Pen, in 2014 received 9m euros in loan from a Russian bank. A year later the European Parliament stripped immunity from Bela Kovacs, a representative of the Hungarian far-right party Jobbik. The 55-year-old politician is suspected of spying against the EU institutions for Russia.

In June 2015 the Czech government has accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of an attempt to conduct the "divide and rule" policy in relation to the EU by supporting the right-wing populist politicians in all E$U countries. European diplomats also see Russian intervention in the results of the referendum in the Netherlands, which led to the rejection of the Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine.

The fears of Brussels are shared in the United States. The head of the US intelligence was tasked to evaluate the scale of financing by the Russian special services of political parties and non-governmental organizations in the former Soviet Union and Europe, says the FT.

According to the newspaper, the EU leaders will discuss all aspects of Europe's relations with Russia at a private dinner on October 20. In the program of the summit, this event is usually set aside for debate on the most sensitive issues. However, the summit is unlikely to make a political decision on this issue, the source said the newspaper.