Staunton, September 12 – “Komsomolskaya Pravda” a week ago celebrated the fact that “Rome is filled with portraits of Vladimir Putin” (kp.ru/daily/26129/3021439/), but it didn’t point out that these pictures were being displayed not by mainstream Italians but by members of extremist, neo-fascist groups, just as is the case in other European countries.
In a commentary posted on Slon.ru yesterday, Sergey Sumlenny points out that the signs the Moscow newspaper had shown were being carried by members of the Italian National Front to express their solidarity with Putin on his “struggle with homosexual propaganda” (slon.ru/world/evropeyskie_krayne_pravye_s_putinym_v_serdtse-989843.xhtml).
The pictures of Putin in a military uniform rapidly made their way into the Russian portion of the Internet where many bloggers expressed their delight that Europeans were supporting their president. But these people “do not know or prefer not to know” anything about the Italian group involved.
The Italian National Front is “a radical neo-fascist organization,” founded by Andriano Tilgher who was earlier convicted of extremism after trying to revive Mussolini’s Fascist Party. “In other words,” Sumlenny says, “the subtitle of the article in “Komsomolka” could have read “Italian Fascists Support Vladimir Putin.”
“That would have been more sensational, and factually correct.”
Apparently, “without wishing it,” the Slon.ru commentator says, “Vladimir Putin has become an icon of Europe’s right radicals,” drawing support from neo-fascists and neo-Nazis “from Norway to the Balkans.” Anders Breivik, the Norwegian mass murderer, for example, called Putin “an honest and decisive leader who deserves respect.”
Affection for Putin in radical right segments of European opinion has been brewing for some time. Already in 2007, Sumlenny notes, Germany neo-Nazis appealed to him “as the single politician capable of defending German democracy,”” as they understood it. Last year, one of their number published a pro-Putin article describing him as “a politician who stands up for his people!”
That article continued in ways that many should find disturbing: “While the West is ever more caught up in the nets of Zionist witches, Putin is without fear leading Russia to new strength, freedom and independence.About such political heroes, the German people today can only dream.”
Such support for Putin among the far right is to be found throughout Europe, Sumlenny continues. Of course, it says little about Putin himself. But it says “somewhat more” bout the export image of Russia” that Moscow is sending out and the success that image is having in what is a marginal political milieu.
Indeed, the Slon.ru writer continues, “the love of European neo-Nazis for Putin is love for an image of Putin that they have invented: for a populist leader who throws challenges at America … and who carries out conversations with European leaders from a position of strength.”
There are some Europeans who are not part of the radical right but who nonetheless see something to like in Putin’s policies, but “the phenomenon of love for Putin is something widespread [largely] among European marginal,” parties that can’t win elections but whose members can watch “Russia Today” via YouTube.
Residents of Russia itself, Sumlenny concludes, ought to be reflecting on whether they want to have government ready to “work with clowns” from such marginalist groups and whether the “love for Putin” that Moscow points to does either Europe or the Russian Federation any good.
Putin Now a Hero for Fascists of Europe