Clean up your house and get rid of Putin’s propaganda, EU chief tells far right

By Thomson Reuters Apr 29, 2024 | 1:48 PM

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen sharply attacked far-right parties such as the German AfD who are standing for the European Union parliamentary election, telling them to “clean up their house” and get rid of Kremlin propaganda.

“When I see what your AfD colleagues, the lead candidates, have done, they are under investigation for being in the pocket of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin,” von der Leyen said in a debate with several other candidates on the future of the EU organised by Politico late on Monday.

She was responding to Anders Vistisen from the rightist Danish People’s Party, alluding to the arrest last week of an assistant to the lead candidate of Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), Maximilian Krah, on espionage charges.

In the debate, Vistisen accused von der Leyen of rallying support for Ukraine in its war against Russia only to grab more power.

“If you look at the electoral program (of the far right), you will see that it echoes the lies and the propaganda of the Kremlin. So clean up your house before you criticize us,” von der Leyen said.

Nationalist anti-immigration parties plan to join forces following the upcoming European Union parliamentary election, looking to create a new bloc to shake up the EU, officials from four groups said at the beginning of April.

The move shows growing confidence amongst far-right and sovereignist parties that for the first time since the EU was formed 60 years ago they can win enough seats in parliament to have a major say in how the continent is run.

Besides the AfD, the conservative Finns Party and the rightist Danish People’s Party have also pledged to support the initiative.

Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, who heads the right-wing League and has been the driving force in persuading like-minded politicians to ditch their previous divisions before the June EU election, said his current EU allies, including Marine Le Pen’s National Rally in France, would take part, too.

(Reporting by Sabine Siebold; Editing by Benoit Van Overstraeten)