Senate Democrats: Putin aligned with anti-Semites in attacking democracies

In-depth report finds Kremlin meddled in elections across Europe to help far-right, extremist national parties

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives for the first day of the G20 economic summit on July 7, 2017 in Hamburg, Germany.(Morris MacMatzen/Getty Images via JTA)
Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives for the first day of the G20 economic summit on July 7, 2017 in Hamburg, Germany.(Morris MacMatzen/Getty Images via JTA)

WASHINGTON — An in-depth report by Senate Democratic staffers on Russian meddling in elections in the West includes several instances when the initiatives included alliances with anti-Semites.

“The Congressional Research Service reports that many of the far-right European parties linked to the Kremlin are ‘anti-establishment and anti-EU, and they often share some combination of extreme nationalism; a commitment to ‘law and order’ and traditional family values; and anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic, or anti-Islamic sentiments,’” said the 200-page report released Wednesday by the Democratic staff on the Foreign Relations Committee.

The report describes conferences across Europe for the far right as being sponsored by figures and organizations linked to the Kremlin, and notes that an official of Hungary’s anti-Semitic Jobbik Party was charged with spying for Russia. It also notes that the National Front in France, which has its roots in an anti-Semitic movement, took a loan from a Russian bank believed to have Kremlin ties.

Marine Le Pen, left, Tomio Okamura, center, and Geert Wilders give a press conference during a conference of the right-wing Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) group in the European parliament on December 16, 2017 outside Prague. (AFP/Michal Cizek)

Also noted in the report, which covers 20 years since Russian President Vladimir Putin’s rise to power, is at least one instance in which Kremlin-aligned actors charged rivals in Ukraine with associations with anti-Semites.

Democratic Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland, who is Jewish and the top Democrat on the committee, said the report’s release is timely because he believes US President Donald Trump is ignoring the threat to democratic institutions that the Russian president is sowing throughout the West, including the United States. Trump’s presidential campaign and transition team are under federal investigation into allegations of collusion with Russia.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 24, 2017, about the Paris climate agreement. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

“As the extent of Russia’s obvious meddling in the 2016 US election continues to be investigated, it is imperative that the American people better understand the true scope and scale of Putin’s pattern of undermining democracy in Russia and across Europe,” Cardin said.

Trump has said his campaign never colluded with Russia and has called the investigation a hoax. He has counseled tamping down the adversarial US-Russia relationship so the two nations can better cooperate in combating terrorism.

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