Fighting for Eurasia: Identitarian intellectuals, far-right strategists and Christian fundamentalists converge in Moldova

The formerly Soviet country of Moldova, which is situated between Asia and Europe on the Eurasian continent, holds a symbolic role in an increasingly important movement in Europe: Eurasianism.

In the past year, Moldova has become the host of a new bi-annual Eurasian colloquium, which bills themselves as the anti-Davos — that is, as the opposite of the annual World Economic Forum, seen as dominated by the liberal European Union and United States The second installment of the Eurasian colloquium took place December 15 to 17.

The idea of Eurasia, which has been most cogently elaborated and pushed by Russian ultranationalist Alexander Dugin, advocates for the expansion of the borders and influence of Russia across the Eurasian continent. Its underlying idea is that the unique Asian and European character of Russia needs to be preserved as a civilizational entity, one that is multi-religious and ethnic but distinctly Russian, patriotic, centralized and imperial in form. Eurasia has since become shorthand for an expansionist vision partly rooted in a cultural myth, partly anchored in the Soviet experience and is being pushed as a way to advocate for greater Russia. According to far-right expert Jean-Yves Camus, Moldova is also symbolic because it is the farthest west people under sanctions for their role in Russia’s 2014 invasion of Crimea, like Dugin himself, can travel.

To bolster the narrative of Eurasian unity and redefine true Europe as separate from the European Union, the Kremlin has tried to emerge as the guardian of true Occidental civilization. Vladimir Putin has redefined himself as the guardian of traditionalist Christian values, which has meant bolstering anti-LBGT legislation, curtailing reproductive rights and increasing nationalist rhetoric. This reinvention of the Kremlin during Putin’s third presidency, starting in 2012, has made it an easy partner for the U.S.-based anti-LGBT Christian international organization, the World Congress of Families (which serves as a nexus of anti-LGBT and anti-choice organizing for various groups), as well as for European far-right parties, intellectuals and movements. December’s colloquium exemplified this convergence between traditionalists, nationalists and far-right actors of all stripes.

The first, smaller convening of the Eurasian conference, “From the Atlantic to the Pacific: A Common Destiny for Peoples,” was held in May 2017 in Chisinau. This most recent conference, called “What Alternative to Capitalism in the 21st Century?”, brought together a larger group of mostly far-right intellectuals, who seemingly want to provide alternatives to capitalism, globalism, economic inequality and the brain drain plaguing Eastern European countries. With dozens of guests from various countries across the Eurasian continent, the meeting tried to elaborate a traditionalist alternative to the Anglo-Saxon, capitalist worldview. The organizers formed a familiar coalition of far-right intellectuals, hardline political figures and Christian traditionalists, all of whom embrace the values Eurasia is meant to safeguard. While they come from different traditions within the far-right, they all share unsavory political affiliations.

One of the co-organizers is France’s Emmanuel Leroy, the former head of communications for AAFER (Alliance France Europe Russia), a far-right group in France credited by Jean-Yves Camus for pushing the French National Front party closer to Russia. Leroy is a former member of GRECE (Groupement de recherche et d'études pour la civilisation européenne), the think-tank of the French New Right that defends a differential anti-racism (that is the idea that people of different races are different, that this is a strength and different people shouldn’t mix) and that has inspired the American racist “alt-right.” Leroy has heavily influenced the former presidential candidate and head of the far-right French National Front party, Marine Le Pen, ideologically. He also attended a white forum in Russia alongside former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke in 2007. Leroy headed an obscure group called Urgence Enfants d’Ukraine (Emergency Ukraine’s Children), initially billed as helping Ukrainians with humanitarian aid, according to Anton Shekhovtsov’s book Russia and the Western Far-Right, which made no secret of its support of Russia in the Ukrainian war:

We clearly understand the reasons why NATO wants to increase pressure on Russia through destabilisation or taking control of former states of the Soviet Union such as Georgia and Ukraine, and even through the war in Syria.

Similarly, Leroy cited the Eurasian summit’s motivations as the failure of Western civilization, one that breaks up families, individuals and businesses and leads to the “death of peoplehood.”

Another French far-right figure present at the forum was Hervé Juvin, who spoke at both colloquia. A French intellectual, whose ideas have been adopted by Marine Le Pen, Juvin defends a “biodiversity” of civilizations, which he uses to justify the idea that different civilizations have to live separately. Initially a critic of what he perceives as uniformity imposed by globalization, he has increasingly been justifying a narrative of Europe as being threatened by immigration. He has denounced immigrants and refugees as victimizing indigenous Europeans:

In the modern conflict between nomads and the sedentary, modern predators chose their side, and the press, organizations, and elected officials, alas, are following in their footsteps. Only nomads are cared for, and the white man on his land, at home and with his kin, can only call for his own disappearance.

Juvin is also an intellectual influence for the identitarian bloc, the far-right populist movement that stages anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant protests. He is reposted on identitarian websites that seek to “reinform” Europeans and proselytize identitarian ideas, like novopress.info or FdeSouche, and has his own chronicle on the far-right Realpolitik.tv. Juvin has cited Breitbart executive chairman and former Trump advisor Steve Bannon’s vision of an axis of Christian civilization uniting Catholics and Orthodox Christians from Jerusalem to Byzantium, Rome and Athens as one of his inspirations.

The event was also notable because of the presence of Russians and Eastern Europeans affiliated with the anti-LGBT hate group, the World Congress of Families (WCF), notably, the WCF representative in Russia and its Commonwealth of Independent States Alexey Komov. Komov has used the WCF platform to spread Russian influence in Eastern European countries, aided by the unofficial Moscow WCF Congress financial backer Konstantin Malofeev, who is close to Dugin. As Komov declared to the French far-right media TV Libertés during the colloquium:

I think we have a very dangerous situation in the West today, where we are seeing a destruction of all of our collective identities: national identity, religious identity, gender identity. This is the struggle we are in right now, and in the future I think we will see the destruction of human identity.

There is a close link between the WCF’s agenda, which focuses on the decline of national births in European countries (which supporters refer to as “demographic winter”), and the Eurasian agenda focused on protecting what it bills as the true European civilization. Both are intent on preserving white European national identities away from perceived threats, which include immigration, marriage equality, individualism and a more inclusive recognition of gender identity.

Levan Vasadze, the anti-gay activist and Georgian organizer of the WCF X conference in Tbilisi in 2016, flew in straight from the  2017 WCF congress to Chisinau for the Eurasian congress’s first iteration in May. There, he drew the link between the civilizational ideological renewal enabled by Eurasia and the WCF’s concern about demographic winter:

Europe is suffering from declining fertility rates, and in the absence of some fundamental ideological renewal, a human being is a slave to the fear of the future.

Dugin, also one of the co-organizers of the Eurasian forum, best showed the overlap between a Eurasian worldview opposed to immigration and “gender politics.” In a video produced by the far-right French media TV Libertés at the May meeting, Dugin attempted to explain this link by saying that Western human rights — rooted in a protestant, individually-centered vision of the world — mean that nations do not exist, and thus illegal immigrants cannot exist since they are “citizens of the world:”

After having liberated the individual from the nation, you can move on to gender. Gender is the next step. Because once we are free from nations, the only thing left to be freed from is our sex. Your sex then becomes optional, a question of choice. After that there will be the dissolution of humanity by post-human creatures, a mix of man and post-man will be the last phase of the coherent application of liberalism.

Dugin, in addition to pushing his Eurasian worldview, has been a player in unifying far-right parties across Europe. In 2014, Dugin attended a meeting with various far-right parties in Europe on the 200th anniversary of the Vienna Congress, organized by WCF financial backer and bankroller of the Crimean invasion Konstantin Malofeev: it aimed to unify far-right parties ranging from the French National Front to the Austrian Freedom Party FPÖ, and others ranging from Spain to Croatia. The Congress was organized to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Congress of Vienna, which had led to the 1815 Holy Alliance of Russia with Prussia and Austro-Hungary. Eurasian ideals have long served a political purpose, this time helping foster alliances with far-right political parties across the continent.

New attendees at this second colloquium also included Slobodan Despot, writer for the French far-right publication Causeur, Dimitris Konstantakopoulos, the former counselor of the Greek leftist party Syriza, and Iurie Rosca, the former vice-prime minister of Moldova who was one of the forum’s key organizers.

A unifying project in appearance, despite its expansionist undertones, the Eurasia summit lays bare an important ideological ridge emerging in Europe: it opposes on one side, Europeans rallying to Christian, family-oriented, anti-LGBT and ethnically defined Russia, which sees itself as the guardian of traditionalist Occidental values; on the other, the European Union, perceived as liberal, human-rights driven and pro-refugee, and simultaneously decadent and individualistic. Those narratives separate not nations as much as ideologies: in this cultural confrontation, European far-right thinkers and activists and Christian evangelicals like those of the World Congress of Families end up on Russia’s side.

Moldovan president Igor Dodon is key to the Eurasian vision. He has increasingly hardened his anti-EU stance, and realigned himself with Russia. He has also pushed for the integration of Moldova into the Eurasian Economic Union, which unites Russia, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan.

After hosting and speaking at the Eurasian meetings and personally inviting the participants, Dodon is planning to host the next iteration of the World Congress of Families, in another indication of the international anti-LGBT network’s appropriation by Russian strategic interests.

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