Source: European Values

Almost every EU country has declared and undeclared representatives of Kremlin interests on their national political stage. Most far-right and far-left parties openly play a friendly role towards Russian policies. The Putin Verstehers (apologists for Putin), who can usually be found within the political mainstream, constitute the second group of Russian policy sympathizers. These entities are not publicly supportive to the Kremlin policies but nevertheless they mitigate or try to block defensive actions of allied institutions against aggressive actions of the Russian Federation. Their actions need to be publicly disclosed.

  1. Financial and personal connections of pro-Kremlin politicians and parties to the Russian regime and its proxies need to be followed and (potentially publicly) disclosed since they pose a risk to national security.
  2. Elected politicians should conduct special parliamentary committees to investigate the pro-Kremlin influence within the state. This exercise would be structurally different from efforts of counterintelligence agencies, while the committee would (almost exclusively, where possible) conduct public hearings with state and non-governmental experts. This would also contribute to raising public awareness of the issue.
  3. Pro-Kremlin politicians can pose a risk to national security due to their Kremlin connections. They might provide confidential information or sensitive insider knowledge to the Kremlin. Therefore, these politicians obviously cannot be democratically expelled from national parliaments but they can be ousted from sensitive positions such as Security & Defense Committees and especially Intelligence Oversight Committees via regular parliamentary procedures. The only thing needed is the consent of the democratic pro-Atlantic parties to do this with respect to national security.
  4. National cabinets should task their counterintelligence agencies to conduct comprehensive reports on pro-Kremlin politicians & influencers and their modus operandi. This does not need to be public, but serve governments to scale the level of infiltration of hostile influence into the national political arena.
  5. Fully transparent financing of political parties is a prerogative for any democratic regime. Each member state should have a very strict legal framework, which would not allow (or would effectively penalize) non-transparent funding of activities of political parties or political candidates. The reality is that the Kremlin tries to support radical and extremist political powers in Europe therefore the states need to tighten their legislature to make the transparency legally binding and effectively enforceable.
  6. Trainings and knowledge-sharing visits should be organized by allied institutions for national politicians and civil society leaders. Advise-targeted visits of senior strategic communication and intelligence experts of allied nations should be aimed at less experienced state structures and political elites. Already existing informal network of over 450 experts in EU and EaP states put together by the EEAS STRATCOM Team should be widely supported via grants of EEAS and international donors in order to conduct joint research and data-mining activities.
  7. Reporting and disclosing the political positions and actions of pro-Kremlin political entities need to be transparently followed, reported and put into context by journalists, NGOs and think-tanks. The complexity of this issue calls for a multidisciplinary approach under the NGO umbrella – investigation, political research, media, security, intelligence and foreign-policy expertise need to be put together. If a politician lobbies on behalf of a hostile foreign power, their words should be documented, analyzed and challenged publicly. A list of disinformation shared by any individual politician shall be established if it happens on a regular basis. Trips of pro-Kremlin politicians to Donbas or Crimea need to be followed and scrutinized. Financial and personal connections to the Kremlin and its proxies need to be publicly disclosed. Trends among specific political parties need to be tracked and analyzed within a national context. It needs to be properly sourced and reported through the use of freedom of speech to publicly name & shame. Even politicians at highest national or EU levels need to be put under watchdog scrutiny - so that any time they appear to be lobbying on behalf of the Russian government, a public call to accountability needs to immediately follow by NGOs. Another example would be the creation of a public list of confirmed lies and disinformation published by official Kremlin talking heads, including top governmental officials. Every government needs to be put under public scrutiny for their words and actions.
  8. Counter-measures, outside of reporting and disclosing, need to be taken. Only NGOs and thinktanks can legitimately conduct such actions within the freedom of speech perimeters. Pro-Kremlin politicians and NGOs need to be publicly challenged and called to accountability not only regarding their funding, but moreover their actions. Public campaigns or research & investigative efforts are a way to go. Watchdog organizations need to push individuals from mainstream political parties to stick to their pro-Atlantic program policies and not give interviews or publish opinion editorials with pro-Kremlin conspiracy quasi media outlets.
  9. NGOs and think-tanks need to engage with pro-Atlantic political entities. Outreach activities such as multi-partisan debates of politicians in the region should be conducted in order to mitigate the perception of the “establishment against people”. Elected politicians also need to get expertise and training on countering disinformation, which could be delivered by specialized think-tanks.

Against Russia

These countries claim to be on the front line of, what they call “sophisticated and intense” campaign, waged by “external actors”, to “generate distrust and discontent with the democratic order, to discredit the EU, the transatlantic community and its partners, as well as to weaken European unity.

  1. Croatia
  2. Czech Republic
  3. Poland
  4. Latvia
  5. Lithuania
  6. Romania
  7. Sweden
  8. United Kingdom

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