Russia is intensifying the work of its agent networks in Europe through the International Movement of Russophiles
In order to mitigate the consequences of the expulsion of Russian intelligence officers from the EU who were acting under diplomatic cover and the exposure of Russian agent networks by European law enforcement agencies, the Russian Federation has intensified the activities of its supporters around the world. For example, on 14 March this year, Moscow hosted a congress of the International Movement of Russophiles, which was attended by about 90 citizens from 42 countries. Many of the politicians who visited Russia are actively engaged in pro-Russian activities in their home countries. Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the movement plans to hold its first regular congress early next year.
One of the Kremlin’s instruments of influence on EU countries is the creation of social movements that can promote the “Russian world” and whitewash the reputation of the Russian Federation, which is waging an unprovoked war against Ukraine. Virtually all of them are part of the overall structure of ideological, political, economic, religious, and cultural influence with a centralised control system from Moscow. One of these organisations was the International Movement of Russophiles (IMR), established in March this year, whose congress was attended by American actor Steven Seagal, Charles de Gaulle’s grandson Pierre de Gaulle, the head of the International Council of Russian Germans Waldemar Herdt and others. The leader of the movement was Bulgarian politician Nikolay Malinov, who was subject to sanctions.
As declared by the IRR, its activities are aimed at promoting the Russophile agenda in the international space and combating Russophobia in the world. Significantly, the legacy of Soviet occupation, deportations, and other crimes, as well as the mass immigration of ethnic Russians to non-Russian territories during the Soviet period, is the main cause of current inter-ethnic tensions in parts of Central and Eastern Europe, which serve as one of Moscow’s main levers of influence to destabilise the region by reviving the rhetoric of a “common past” and promoting the “Russian world”.
The Russians do not hide the fact that in the future they will only increase their efforts to promote the Russian language in the world. Moreover, they directly link its spread to cultural, economic, and political expansion.
The activities of the Russophile movement are clearly anti-Ukrainian and anti-European. Its representatives are actively seeking to undermine the efforts of the international coalition supporting Ukraine. They insist on the lifting of sanctions against Russia and support far-right and far-left radicals in Europe – all those who, for ideological or purely material reasons, hate a united Europe and act as a destructive force.
“Russophiles are involved in Russian propaganda and disinformation activities. Alina Lipp (Germany) is the official military correspondent for Russia Today, Elisio Bertolazi (Italy) is also a correspondent for this news agency and others. They are used by Russia to distort the truth about Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.
Moscow has been constantly manipulating messages to influence Russia’s neighbouring nations by referring to the history of shared use of the Russian language, which was never really based on an ethnocultural context, but rather came into use over historical or territorial issues. Russia cited this factor in its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
Through the International Russophile Movement and the promotion of the “Russian world”, Russia is preparing another threat to Europe, aimed at provoking a split in the political elites of EU countries and their further separation. Russophilia among political parties has become an epidemic that destroys the immunity of the state and its sovereignty. The promotion of Russophile ideas is fundamentally hostile and dangerous.