Helena Lyng Blak
3 weeks ago

Quarrels Arise among Members of the European Parliament as Fear of Russian Election Interference Escalate

European politics heats up with sharp exchanges among Parliament members and urgent calls for action against suspected Russian meddling in the upcoming elections.
Brussels, Belgium. 28th Jun. 2016. Plenary room of the European Parliament. — Photo by Ale_Mi
Brussels, Belgium. 28th Jun. 2016. Plenary room of the European Parliament. — Photo by Ale_Mi

On Monday, April 29, during the 2024 Maastricht debate, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen vigorously challenged the European far right, calling them “Putin’s proxies”.

According to The Guardian, von der Leyen in particular criticized the ‘Identity and Democracy’ group of the European Parliament which unites the far right parties Rassemblement National from France, Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) from Germany, and Dansk Folkeparti from Denmark.

Anders Vistisen, representing the far right coalition, nevertheless insisted that he and his fellow politicians in ID had been "on the right side of history" regarding Russia.

Increasing Concerns Over Russian Interference

As the European Union's elections near, concerns about Russian interference are intensifying. 

With more than 400 million voters across 27 nations set to choose their Members of the European Parliament this June, concerns about the integrity of this democratic process are rising.

Recent intelligence reports and government announcements, particularly from Belgium and the Czech Republic, have highlighted active Russian operations aimed at swaying the election results.

These efforts are reportedly designed to weaken European support for Ukraine and promote pro-Russian narratives within the EU. This comes amid heightened tensions due to the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian conflict, with the EU ramping up sanctions and proposing the use of frozen Russian assets to support Ukraine.

Furthermore, in March, allegations were made against several MEPs that they were being paid to promote Russian propaganda, with the European Parliament “looking into” the claims according to Euronews.

MEPs Calling for a Firm Response

On Thursday, April 25, 2024, the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) adopted a resolution denouncing the Kremlin-backed effort to interfere with the European parliamentary elections.

The resolution furthermore called for AfD to publicly declare its financial relations, particularly with the Kremlin as well as disclose the purposes and exact amount of any and all payments originating from pro-Russian and Kremlin-linked sources.

“Parliament is appalled by credible allegations that some MEPs were paid to disseminate Russian propaganda and that several participated in the activities of pro-Russian media outlet ‘Voice of Europe’, at the same time as Russia’s illegal war of aggression against Ukraine,” said the MEPs in a press release.

As Europe prepares to vote, the integrity of its democratic processes remains under scrutiny, and concerns and accusations of Russian interference in the EU elections remain escalating.

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