Far-right and nationalist parties from across Europe convened in St Petersburg on Sunday, condemning the pro-Ukrainian government in Kiev and calling for an end to the sanctions imposed on Russia by the west.
The event, called the International Russian Conservative Forum, was organised by pro-Kremlin party Rodina and involved 400 participants from 15 countries, according to the conference website, although the BBC reported that 150 representatives attended. Speakers included members of Greece’s Golden Dawn party and Udo Voigt, former leader of the Germany’s National Democratic Party (NPD) who has praised Adolf Hitler in the past.
The final resolution signed by attendees included calls for the disbandment of NATO, an end to the ‘Cold War’ against Russia and for the west to stop supporting pro-Kiev forces in Ukraine. Speakers also criticised homosexuality and cited Russia as the guardian of European values.
The conference was briefly halted by a bomb scare. The Moscow Times reported that police were alerted to the threat by an anonymous tip-off. The threat was received 20 minutes before the scheduled end of speeches but that the final resolution was signed before the Holiday Inn hotel, where the conference was held, was evacuated.
The event was the first of its kind and it was not indicated whether it will become an annual event.
The resolution read: “We demand the World Community to stop the ‘Cold War’ concerning Russian Federation; the cancellation of all political and economic sanctions and the renewal of equal and constructive dialogue between Russia and the west.”
Referring to the Ukrainian conflict as an “internal affair of the country”, the signatories called on the west to stop supporting the Kiev government.
“We united [sic] to stop military and social-political aggression in Ukraine in relation to Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republic. We ask the authorities of USA and countries of EU to refuse supporting regime of “Kiev’s junta”, concealment [of] its war crimes, and helping antinational Ukrainian government in financial, military and other ways.”
Roberto Fiore, leader of Italian party Forza Nuove (New Force), told attendees that Moscow has overtaken Rome as the guardian of European-Christian values. “It’s not me saying this - it’s God saying it,” he said.
British politician Nick Griffin, who was leader of the nationalist British National Party until he was expelled in October, said the event showed Russia to be more democratic than the west. “If you tried to have a conference like this in the U.S. or the UK, it wouldn’t be allowed,” he said.
With Udo Voigt (NPD MEP) and Roberto Fiore. pic.twitter.com/3Po4uuHGpMâ€” Nick Griffin (@NickGriffinBU) March 23, 2015
In his speech, Voigt, who is a member of the European Parliament, said: “The American way of life is not at the center of our politics, nor are gays and lesbians. Our focus is on our families and our children.”
The event appears to have had Moscow’s tacit approval. Police stationed outside the venue dispersed a small anti-fascist protest and the conference website quotes a speech by Vladimir Putin in which the Russian president criticised western countries for deviating from their founding Christian principles.
The forum comes less than two months ahead of planned celebrations in Moscow on May 9 to commemorate the end of world war two. The Russian federation of Jewish communities expressed concern about the event being held in “one of the cities that suffered most from the Nazis”. Many of the parties involved, such as Golden Dawn and NPD, have been accused of neo-Nazi links.