Russia keeps on carrying out information campaigns and psyops in the Netherlands to enhance impact on country’s political system.
A workshop “Understanding the Conflict in Ukraine”, assisted by the Forum voor Democratie pro-Russian political party, is scheduled for July 10, in Amsterdam at Europe Square 24, 1078GZ. Moscow has set a goal for the organizers of the event to blame the West, and the United States for the war, and prevent the Netherlands from providing military assistance for Ukraine. The organizers are also expected to make an attempt to question the facts of Russian war crimes in Ukraine and justify Putin’s policies.
The Kremlin has set up to restage the operation of 2016 that way, when Russian puppet party’s leader, Thierry Baudet, campaigned against granting Ukraine the status of an associated EU member. Russia is eager not just to use the FvD to hit Ukraine, but also to oust the Dutch government by stirring up a government crisis.
For that Russian information campaign, Thierry Baudet got funding from the Russian embassy in the Netherlands. Russian Ambassador O. Shulgin will be one of the key speakers at the Forum.
Anonymous counterintelligence sources say that Moscow helped Thierry Baudet to form the party and promote it in the media.
Henk Otten, a former party colleague of Thierry Baudet, told the NL Times this February that Baudet was a “puppet of an enemy power” (Russia).
The FvD party announced itself in 2016, with its ideology promoted amid the migration crisis from Syria, initiated by Russia, and effort to squash the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU. Despite tough criticism of migration, Baudet’s mother has origins in Indonesia. There is a possibility of Moscow having got dirt on Baudet.
Those efforts were largely funded by Russian intelligence, which facilitated setting up the party’s administrative structure, its assets, and media promotion.
Direct democracy through referendums is among the FvD’s priorities, also consistently promoted by Russia in some countries by means of friendly parties, including Ukraine. Moscow believes disinformation campaigns and controlled propaganda media can shape temporary public opinion that might affect the outcome of those referendums. That is why Russia provides substantial funding for the far-right parties and Eurosceptics, and infiltrates there to create preconditions for the EU’s disintegration. The FvD, for instance, is in favor of the Netherlands leaving the EU by a referendum, like Brexit.
As Russia started the war against Ukraine, Baudet became heavily involved in the Kremlin’s information campaigns. He twitted a video accusing the West of making Russia launch the military operation to demilitarize Ukraine. Prior to the war, Baudet was excited about the actions by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, as the allies warned of highly possible Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Otten said that in 2015, Baudet hinted in personal letter that Russia was giving him money for pro-Russian propaganda in the Netherlands.
5 years later, in 2020, Baudet’s WhatsApp messages, revealing his contact with Vladimir Kornilov, associated with the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, came out in the media. Those messages proved Kornilov had significant impact on what Baudet did concerning Ukraine and anti-NATO campaigns. Baudet also mentioned financial support by Kornilov in message exchanges with his FvD colleagues. Baudet was also among those who initiated an appeal to ex-US President Donald Trump demanding a new investigation of MH-17 Malaysia Airlines downing, as part of Russian intelligence operation.
Thierry and Kornilov were engaged in active cooperation to discredit the JIT investigation in the Netherlands in 2019, when they attracted the RLI’s attention.
An investigation by Zembla TV program and De Nieuws BV confirmed the RLI’s findings and proved that Baudet met Kornilov in late 2015 for an interview on a Russian website and they have been in touch ever since.
Baudet invited Kornilov to address the FvD meeting and translated Kornilov’s articles into Dutch. Baudet most likely facilitated posting of those articles on the GeenStijl blog, which was the information core for the propaganda by Eurosceptics.
That way, Baudet is likely to have come to the attention of Russian SVR station in Amsterdam as a promising candidate to recruit. Lots of signals he was getting Russian money and taking part in campaigns carried out by Russians just confirm that Russian intelligence recruited him in exchange for money and dirt.
Elsevier magazine reported in February 2021 of WhatsApp messages sent by Baudet to his party mates in which he claims that white people have higher IQs than Latin Americans and African Americans. Baudet and some other participants allegedly sent messages with racial slurs and disagreed with race relations. Spread of xenophobia in Europe is among the Kremlin’s goals, as part of triggering conflicts inside the EU.
Fully opaque Baudet’s income that he gets aside from the work in parliament, does not work to his advantage. That indirectly proves he is financed by Russian intelligence. A VVD (People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy) MP Ruben Brekelmans, said Baudet’s statements were “reprehensible and appalling,” while D66 (Democrats 66) MP Sjoerd Sjoerdsma said that was “Kremlin’s propaganda in parliament.”