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Originally published in the International Business Times.
The Kremlin has been building ties with British far-right groups and helping them expand their influence for more than a decade, experts have warned.
On Monday (6 February) the Times reported that the Foreign Office has been monitoring connections between Russia and the UK far right, after former BNP chief Nick Griffin and treasurer Jim Dowson visited St Petersburg for an international conference of extremists in 2015.
Andrew Foxall, director of the Russian Studies Centre at think tank The Henry Jackson Society, told IBTimes UK that the Kremlin had long nurtured the connections.
“Russia has been cultivating contacts with the UK far right for well over a decade. Since at least 2011, the Kremlin has invited members of the far right to monitor elections in Russia, speak at conferences there, and otherwise undertake friendly diplomatic initiatives,” he said.
The Kremlin has been accused of waging an information warfare campaign in Europe, sponsoring extremists groups, spreading fake news, and engaging in cyber attacks in an attempt to undermine European institutions. MI6 chief Alex Younger has warned that “hybrid warfare” campaigns of the type waged by Russia poses a threat to democracy.
According to a 2015 study by Foxall, ties between Kremlin-linked nationalists and British extremists extend back to 2005, when Kremlin ally and nationalist ideologue Alexander Dugin was invited to speak at a meeting of the British New Right group by Troy Southgate and Jonathan Bowden, both former senior BNP members.
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