[Marxism] Austrian fascists, Putin and Trump cozy up

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Dec 20 08:37:06 MST 2016


NY Times, Dec. 20 2016
Austria’s Far Right Signs a Cooperation Pact With Putin’s Party
By ALISON SMALE

BERLIN — The leader of the Austrian far-right Freedom Party has signed 
what he called a cooperation agreement with Russia’s ruling party and 
recently met with Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, the designated national 
security adviser to President-elect Donald J. Trump of the United States.

Word of the agreement with Russia was the latest sign that the Kremlin 
is forging bonds with political parties across Europe in what some 
European leaders suspect is a coordinated attempt to meddle in their 
affairs and potentially weaken Western democracies. Many of these 
efforts are murky and involve obscure groups, and it is unclear what, if 
any, direct involvement President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia may have.

The Freedom Party leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, reported the signing 
of the agreement with United Russia, Mr. Putin’s party, on Monday on his 
Facebook page, where he also disclosed that he had visited General Flynn 
a few weeks ago in Trump Tower in New York.

“Internationally, the Freedom Party continues to gain in influence,” 
wrote Mr. Strache, a dental technician who has led the party since 2005.

The Freedom Party, founded in the 1950s by ex-Nazis, surged this year to 
nearly capture the largely ceremonial presidency of Austria in May, but 
was defeated in a final runoff on Dec. 4. Still, its ascendance, 
alongside the rise of rightist parties in many European countries and 
with Mr. Trump’s victory, has raised new questions about political 
realignment across the continent.

Mr. Strache’s trips to New York and Moscow were clearly intended to 
convey the impression that the Freedom Party, which still leads all 
opinion polls ahead of the two mainstream parties that have governed 
Austria since World War II, has international standing and intends to 
continue vying for power.

A text of the cooperation agreement, published in Russian on the website 
of United Russia and in German on the website of an Austrian journalist, 
Claus Pandi, outlined plans for regular meetings and collaboration where 
suitable on economic, business and political projects. It said the 
accord was valid for five years, but was not legally binding.

It was signed for United Russia by Sergei Zheleznyak, a deputy to the 
party’s general secretary who is among the Russian officials barred from 
the United States since March 2014 for supporting the Russian actions in 
Crimea.

In welcoming the Austrians at party headquarters, Mr. Zheleznyak 
specifically mentioned Europe’s “migration crisis” as a field for 
cooperation, according to United Russia’s website.

The Freedom Party presidential candidate, Norbert Hofer, had indicated 
he might use a little-noticed power of the president to dismiss the 
federal government, or at least some ministers, a move most observers 
forecast would precipitate new national elections.

Europe’s Rising Far Right: A Guide to the Most Prominent Parties
Amid a migrant crisis and discontent with the European Union, many 
far-right parties have achieved electoral success. Here are eight of the 
most noteworthy.

Aside from sowing domestic ferment in Austria, a Freedom Party-led 
government would press to lift the sanctions imposed on Moscow for its 
2014 seizure of Crimea and meddling in war-torn eastern Ukraine. On 
Facebook, Mr. Strache said Monday that having the United States and 
Russia stand together would be important to solving the crises in Syria 
and Crimea and “to get rid of the sanctions that damage the economy and 
are in the end useless.”

Austria jealously guards its neutrality, adopted after the allies 
withdrew from the country in 1955, and there is considerable nostalgia 
for the Cold War role played by Vienna as a venue for United 
States-Soviet summits.

In that spirit, the Freedom Party has long leaned toward Moscow. In the 
presidential campaign, Mr. Hofer had argued strongly that European 
sanctions imposed on Moscow should be dropped, a stance he reiterated in 
a lengthy interview with Russian television late last week.

Russian media loyal to the Kremlin have emphasized for over a year that 
the influx of some one million migrants, many of them Muslim, has 
divided and weakened Europe, where Germany, Austria and Sweden bore the 
main burden of absorbing the newcomers.

The Freedom Party is also anti-migrant, and seeks deep changes in the 
European Union, while stopping short of calls to follow Britain’s exit 
from the bloc.

Pyotr Tolstoy, deputy speaker of the Duma, or lower house of Russian 
Parliament, said there was a need for open dialogue to improve ties with 
parties across Europe, United Russia reported from the signing of the 
agreement. This was especially important, Mr. Tolstoy was quoted as 
saying, “in today’s politically correct world, when everyone is hiding 
their real thoughts and feelings.”




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