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The French Far Right in Russia's Orbit

May 15, 2018

Marine Le Pen, 2012. CREDIT: Blandine Le Cain (CC)

This paper is the second of a series of publications on Russia's influence in France. France constitutes the most prominent example of Russia's soft power in Western Europe, due not only to the long-lasting positive bilateral relations but also to the presence of an important Russian emigration since the 1920s that can act as a relay of influence. This project is supported by a grant from the Foundation Open Society Institute in cooperation with OSIFE of the Open Society Foundations.

SUMMARY

Far-right groups in France are not restricted to the party of the Le Pen family. They are diverse, operate through networks, and are now well within Russia's force field. But this is not only the result of Vladimir Putin's charisma or Marine Le Pen's need for funds. The Russian question has drawn French nationalist activists into combat, both at the rhetorical level—over the promotion of competing geopolitical visions—and at the level of armed combat. These debates are rich, grounded in their organicist thinking and its definition of the relationship between ethnicities and the nation. The wars in the former Yugoslavia and in Ukraine have considerably intensified both the orientation of these groups toward Moscow and the practical aspects of their relationships to the Russian political scene.

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