During the Cold War, left-wing parties were often viewed with no small amount of suspicion in the West. Fear was rampant, if perhaps overwrought, that they could act as a political beachhead for the Soviet Union and the communist East Bloc in their presumed quest for global domination.
Times have changed. While relations between Moscow and the West are once again tense due to the ongoing tug-o’-war over Ukraine and the Crimea, it is Europe’s right-wing parties that are showing an affinity for Russia. And with European Parliament elections quickly approaching in late May, right-wing populists — with parties in several countries well positioned to make gains in the coming vote — are being increasingly open about their desire to act as an advocate for Moscow in Brussels.
“I think we can be a good partner for Russia in the European Parliament,” says Filip Dewinter, a senior member of the right-wing Flemish party Vlaams Belang in Belgium. “And Russia sees us as a potential partner.”
Russian voices have been no less supportive. “We hope that the results of the coming elections will give these people more power,” says Sergey Markov, a conservative political scientist with close ties to the Kremlin. “We need to move forward to further develop this cooperation” with the European right…