Ex-Baudet colleague calls far-right leader “Manchurian candidate” for Putin support
Former FvD member Henk Otten called his ex-colleague Thierry Baudet a “Manchurian candidate” and “a politician who is the plaything of an enemy power,” in response to Baudet’s pro-Russian comments on Thursday, according to a report published in AD. Otten also suggested Baudet had received money from Russia in the past, which Baudet denies.
Baudet, the party leader of FvD, blamed the West for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in a video he posted on Twitter on Thursday. “The West caused this, and Russia's response now is all too predictable,” he said in the video. He previously called Russian President Vladimir Putin “a beautiful guy” as tensions escalated in Ukraine two weeks ago.
Otten, who co-founded FvD with Baudet, called his former colleague “completely bonkers” and “insane.” Otten cut ties with FvD in June 2019, and formed his own party. Two other senators left FvD months later to join Otten, one of whom, Jeroen de Vries, is still in the upper house of Parliament.
Otten claims that in text messages sent to him in 2015, Baudet seemed to hint at receiving payment from Russian sources connected to that country’s propaganda machine, AD reports. The messages very specifically name Vladimir Kornilov, the former director of the Center for Eurasian Studies in The Hague who also is a political activist promoting rebel separatists in Eastern Ukraine.
Baudet insisted at the time that his text messages were ironic and that he and his party have “never allowed ourselves to be paid in any other way.” His messages to Otten were investigated as part of a 2020 episode of television program Zembla. The program also revealed that Baudet is one of many MPs who has not been transparent about income earned outside of their work in Parliament.
The FvD leader’s recent remarks blaming the West and supporting Putin were also rejected by fellow FvD MP Theo Hiddema, as well as many other MPs from a diverse range of political parties. VVD parliamentarian Ruben Brekelman told De Telegraaf that Baudet’s words were “reprehensible and horrific” and D66 MP Sjoerd Sjoerdsma called the comments “Kremlin propaganda in parliament.”.
Baudet has a history of making pro-Russian statements and “has never hidden his admiration for Putin,” Sjoerdsma said to AD. However, Baudet’s Twitter statement is a departure even from other pro-Russian parliamentarians. For example, PVV leader Geert Wilders, who has also expressed admiration for the Russian president, condemned the invasion on Thursday.
“The West has made a huge mistake by not excluding Ukraine's NATO membership, but there is no excuse for a Russian military incursion,” Wilders tweeted.