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Europe’s far right flocks to Russia International conservative forum held in St. Petersburg

Source: Meduza
Photo: Olga Maltseva / AFP / Scanpix

On March 22, the Russian conservative forum took place at a Holiday Inn in St. Petersburg. This year, the Russian political groups were joined by representatives of the European far-right. Among the participants were former leader of the German National Democratic Party Udo Voigt and members of the Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, which use a modified swastika as the party symbol. The European guests unanimously denounced the USA and the “Kiev junta,” while praising Vladimir Putin and the Russian law against “gay propaganda.” Their Russian counterparts said that Russia would return into Europe’s embrace once European countries reclaim their national sovereignty. A few antifasicists half-heartedly picketed outside the hotel. The night before the convention, they protested the arrival of the neo-Nazis by blocking Nevskiy Prospekt, the principal street of St. Petersburg. The forum ended ahead of schedule, when a bomb threat was called into the hotel.

“Are such people here on purpose? Are they trying to cause a conflict from the moment you enter?” asked a long-haired man with a bowtie as he checked his coat. Despite his elegant outward appearance, he was not there to see a play; he had come to attend the Russian conservative forum at the St. Petersburg Holiday Inn, where labor migrants from Central Asia were working at the cloakroom.

The convention of Russian nationalists, who now prefer to call themselves “conservatives” or “traditionalists,” was also attended by European fellow-thinkers. The tone of all subsequent speeches was set by the opening address of Yury Lyubomirsky, the forum organizer and coordinator of the St. Petersburg chapter of the political party Rodina (Motherland). “Our dream is the national liberation of Europe,” he proclaimed, using the term ‘national’ to denote ‘ethno-national,’ as is typical in the Russian language.

Fyodor Biryukov, member of the political council of Rodina, praised his own event. “This is the first stone laid in the foundation of the new world order we are destined to build. St. Petersburg is becoming the city of a new revolution – a revolution of national interest against the conspiracy of the world’s 100 wealthiest families, who have turned the planet into their own plantation,” he said. According to Biryukov’s plan, the “people of good will” who gathered at the forum must come together to form their own conservative international organizations to replace the “pro-fascist UN and OSCE.”

“Anyone who speaks with any member of the Ukrainian government is an accomplice of terrorists,” Biryukov raged on, rendering Vladimir Putin an accomplice as well, since the Russian president periodically shakes hands with Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko.

Fedor Biryukov, political council member of the Rodina party, speaking at the Russian international conservative forum in St. Petersburg. March 22, 2015.
Photo: Ruslan Shamukov, Tass, Vida Press

Biryukov concluded his speech with an emotional outcry: “In the imperial city of St. Petersburg we witness the dawn of a new world of nations! To freedom! To the nation! To the Motherland!”

The next presenter was Roberto Fiore, head of the Italian party New Force. Fiore said that as a Roman, he knows that “Moscow is the third Rome, and the role of Russia in history is to revive Christianity.” He noted that these are not his own words, but rather “the words of God.”

During the break, the Italian politician explained why he and his European colleagues came to St. Petersburg and why they support Russia: “We don’t want war, we want normal trade to resume with Russia, and we need an alternative to American imperialism.” Fiore turned towards a New York Times journalist and asked why there were hundreds of American military bases in Italy. The journalist responded by asking whether Fiore was concerned that Putin is using European far right parties for his own ends. “No! Even [Italian Prime Minister] Matteo Renzi came to Moscow in March to improve relations with Putin. Even [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel and [French President] Francois Hollande don’t want to quarrel with Russia. We just declare openly what they say in secret. No one in Europe, except maybe the Baltic states, wants sanctions against Russia, everyone wants to be Russia’s friend,” answered Fiore. According to him, the Americans are insisting upon sanctions, even though their trade turnover with Russia increased by 20 percent last year, while Europe’s decreased by the same amount.

Representatives of Marine Le Pen’s renowned French National Front party did not attend the forum. Moreover, former National Front party member Olivier Wyssa, who was in attendance, criticized his former allies. He claimed that most of Le Pen’s friends are homosexuals, many of them are “Jewish freemasons,” and Le Pen herself failed to fight legislation allowing abortions and gay marriages.

The higher the status of the far-right guests from the EU (some of them are current members of the EU parliament), the more carefully they tried to avoid making radical statements (their Russian counterparts have been taught to follow suit by Russia’s law against kindling ethnic hatred). Even European parliament members from the Greek Golden Dawn party, the leader of which is currently serving a jail term, busied themselves with mumbling something boring about Greek-Russian business partnerships. It seems that the organizing committee had asked them to be wary.

“In your dreams, liberals!” exclaimed Lyubomirsky, the organizer, as he ran past, hearing me complain to a colleague about the blandness of the presentation given by Jared Taylor, the author of the book White Identity and the leader of a movement he calls “racial realism.”

In his speech, Jared Taylor had simply apologized for the actions of the US government and promised his Russian colleagues that regular Americans like himself really support Europe and Russia. But at one point he let loose and declared that “Americans are committing suicide because of the encouragement of racial and ethnic diversity.”