German neo-Nazis will attend Sunday a Russian international conference aimed at raising support from EU far-right parties for Moscow's interests in Ukraine. The Russian Conservative Forum, which will be held in St. Petersburg, will host Udo Voigt, a European MP from the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), alongside representatives from 10 other radical EU parties, including the Greek Golden Dawn and the Italian New Force.
“Some of them openly call themselves followers of Hitler and use the symbol of the swastika”, claimed a Russian opposition politician in a last minute attempt to stop the meeting. Boris Vishnevsky of the Yabloko party called yesterday the St. Petersburg prosecutor office to launch an investigation and to cancel the convention. “All the parties, which were invited to this forum, have a reputation of neo-Fascists and neo-Nazis,” he explained in an interview with Russian radio Ekho Moskva. “We must take the measures to stop the spread of extremism.”
The stated purpose of the Forum, which is organized by Rodina, the Russian National Patriotic Union, is the establishment of a pan-European movement which would lobby for Russia's interests, especially in the face of possible further sanctions against Moscow. The proposed council will allow coordination between conservative and nationalistic forces in Europe and Russia, and would enable Moscow to influence political processes in the European Union.
The organizers are expecting 400 participants from 15 countries. Among them are MPs from the Greek neo-Nazi party Georgios Epitideios and Eleftherios Sinadinos, founder of the Italian Fascist movement Roberto Fiore and other members of far-right parties from the UK, Austria, Sweden, Bulgaria, Belgium, Denmark and Spain. According to the Russian newspaper Kommersant, Marine Le Pen from France’s National Front was also invited to the forum but chose to decline, out of fear of damaging her reputation before presidential elections in 2017.
Vishnevsky also noted, when speaking with the newspaper, that a number of prominent military commanders from east Ukraine will attend the gathering, many of whom have strong ties to far-right or neo-Nazi Russian organizations. The Russian politician also commented about NPD's Voigt, saying that “he doesn’t conceal his anti-Semitic and xenophobic views and has frequently faced administrative and criminal liability for inciting rebellion and other offenses”.
Voigt, a former leader of the NPD who was elected last year to the European parliament, was charged several times with incitement for distributing racially-charged pamphlets, and in 2009 received a seven-month suspended sentence for this offense. He also claimed previously that the number of Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust was exaggerated, and in reality is closer to 340,000.