The EU Parliament's chief Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt, a Belgian, has an explanation for the wave of populism sweeping Europe right now; Putin is bankrolling key members of the movement's leadership - including Britain's Nigel Farage, Dutch MP Geert Wilders and France's Marine Le Pen.
While addressing EU parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday, Verhofstadt said that the EU should become like "one nation," while asserting "Inside the European Union we have a fifth column against us."
I call them the cheerleaders of Putin: Farage, Le Pen, Wilders, and the friends of them are sitting here," said Verhofstadt, adding "In fact doing just one thing: they take money from the Kremlin, they take the intelligence of the Kremlin."
Europe has a fifth column in its ranks: Putin's cheerleaders who want to destroy Europe & liberal democracy from within: Le Pen, Wilders, Farage, Orbàn, Kaczynski, Salvini use Kremlin money & intel. Like Farage's friend Arron Banks, who colluded w/ Russians to deliver #Brexit— Guy Verhofstadt (@guyverhofstadt) June 13, 2018
"These people have only one goal and that is to destroy Europe, to kill our liberal democracy."
Before Verhofstadt was done, Poland's Jaroslaw Kaczynski - who is not a fan of Putin, was lumped in with the ranks of the "cheerleaders of Putin," along with Hungary's PM Viktor Orban and Italy's Deputy PM Matteo Salvini. Business man Aaron Banks, co-founder of Leave.EU was said to have "colluded" with Russians to "deliver" Brexit - a claim Verhofstadt made with zero evidence.
In response to Verhofstadt, Farage fired back, tweeting "This is a baseless lie. I have never received any Russian financial or political support. I suggest you withdraw"
This is a baseless lie.— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) June 13, 2018
I have never received any Russian financial or political support.
I suggest you withdraw. https://t.co/jxb0YrrwVc
Ray Finch, UKIP MEP described Verhofstadt as a “federalist fanatic” who was simply “lashing out.” According to the Independent, Finch added that Verhofstadt is “incapable or unwilling to accept that the British people voted to leave the EU. Calling 17.4 million people ‘Putin’s puppets’ is so outlandish I fully expect him to blame it on the influence of singer Iggy Pop or the lunar cycle. He is an EU conspiracy theorist who deserves our pity. Funny he did not mention his great friend George Soros who has publicly pumped billions into political campaigning.”
As an aside, the first instance of "Russia's 5th Column" we could find is a March report from John Podesta's think tank, the Center for American Progress, written by Chief of Staff Ken Gude - (who is oddly mentioned in a a leaked Podesta email with the subject "UFOs").
The report reads:
Russia deploys an array of tools to help its designated partners, actions that range from the relatively benign practice of elevating the profile of European far-right leaders to disinformation, propaganda, alleged illicit financing, and covert influence operations.
President Donald Trump is following the same playbook as the Russian-backed far-right European leaders, adopting eerily similar language to theirs and pursuing the same policies that advance Russia’s objectives even when they are inconsistent with previous Republican policy positions. -American Progress
Surely it couldn't be the unchecked flood of migrants entering Europe and the corresponding spike in crime - including, of course, thought crimes committed by "racist" Europeans who aren't so sure they like their tax dollars supporting the phenomenon.
Nope - totally Putin.