How to stop Moscow influencing the European elections?

In the run-up to the European elections there is growing concern about Kremlin interference, be it through media manipulation of voters or direct influence on politicians and parties. Commentators discuss where the dangers lurk.

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Eesti Rahvusringhääling (ERR Online) (EE) /

Love of Russia not behind this

Harri Tiido, journalist and former Estonian ambassador to Finland, explains in ERR Online why Russian propaganda is so effective:

“Russian influence is not necessarily based on a love of Russia, but rather on a quest for support for policies that run counter to mainstream politics and Western values. Common interests are opposition to the US, anti-Atlanticism and support for alleged traditional family values. What's more, some pro-Russian voices are simply 'useful idiots'. ... The war in Ukraine has obliged some parties to distance themselves from Russia, but this may only be a temporary phenomenon.”

Aargauer Zeitung (CH) /

Trojan horses have been here for a long time

Right-wing parties such as the AfD are deliberately helping the Kremlin, writes the Aargauer Zeitung:

“German interests, they believe, can best be safeguarded if Berlin and Moscow talk over the heads of the Poles and Ukrainians. Such a reckless attitude, combined with anti-Western sentiment, makes the AfD dangerous. Parties influence public opinion, and their MPs picking up sensitive information in committees, for instance, can't be ruled out, even when they are far removed from power. This makes parties like the AfD instruments of hybrid warfare for authoritarian regimes.”

Népszava (HU) /

Propaganda on the agenda

In Hungary, even the ruling party's election programme contains Russian propaganda, Népszava criticises:

“Fidesz's pro-Putin rhetoric consistently follows the line set by the prime minister: the main enemy is Brussels, the cause of all problems is the war, for which the Russians bear zero responsibility. ... Fidesz's election programme reflects and evokes a deliberately skewed world view and at the same time the real views of the Hungarian prime minister and the Russian president.”

Le Monde (FR) /

Pro-Russian ideas threatening the EU

Le Monde warns of pro-Russian parties in several countries:

“Above all, the conflict being waged on our borders by Russia must prompt a new awareness. ... Just two years ago the Rassemblement National made a military alliance with Russia the spearhead of its defence programme. Today, the FPÖ in Austria and the AfD in Germany openly display their pro-Kremlin sympathies. And while their priorities are not dictated by Russia, their illiberal interests coincide. ... These political parties pose a real threat to the founding principles of the EU and remain - for the most part - the bearers of a dangerous ideological affinity with the Kremlin.”

Polityka (PL) /

Don't hold back in the information war

Polityka calls for countermeasures against Russian disinformation:

“EU leaders are aware of the Russian assaults on the foundations of democracy. At a summit in Brussels this week they discussed how to respond to such activities ahead of the elections. European Council President Charles Michel argued: 'We need to be much more vigilant, work together better and show Russia that we are not naive.' For this to be the case - and the Council President did not add this - it is not enough to passively defend ourselves against disinformation. We must actively combat it. Because the information war is won by whoever imposes their narrative first.”

Svenska Dagbladet (SE) /

Kremlin cash destroying democracies

Using the example of the US, Svenska Dagbladet explains how Russian money is undermining the political system:

“In the last US elections both parties were financed with hundreds of millions of dollars whose origins were unclear. ... The current Republican speaker, Mike Johnson, received funding from an American company owned by high-ranking Russian businessmen when he was elected to Congress. All of this was judged to be legal. The question is, what does it mean for freedom and the rule of law in the US when there is so much black money in politics? If we cannot identify and control dirty money in politics, it is doubtful that democracy can survive.”