Dutch senator Tiny Kox, accused of ties to Russian secret service, denounces claim as nonsense
Update, 11:15 p.m. on 15 Sept. 2022: The headline and story was updated with comments from Senator Tiny Kox.
SP Senator Tiny Kox vehemently denied accusations that he was in the pocket of the Russian secret services while working in Strasbourg, France. He views the accusations as an attempt to damage the Council of Europe, where he leads the Parliamentary Assembly, and to divert attention away from the war in Ukraine. The Council of Europe has excluded Russia from participation due to its invasion of Ukraine.
According to investigative collective The Dossier Center, led by Russian dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a Russian spy pointed the finger at Kox, naming him as a representative of Russia's interests in Strasbourg. This appeared in an analysis of documents from Russian spy Valeri Levitsky, who worked under the cover of Consul General in Strasbourg, France, where the Council of Europe is located.
Levitsky was able to manipulate a series of the Council of Europe’s presidents of Parliament to get them under Russia’s control, according to The Dossier Center. If the Kremlin wanted something, Kox “could sort it out,” Levitski said. Kox was elected as the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in January. The treaty organization safeguards democracy and human rights in Europe. His rival candidate was Mariia Mezentseva from Ukraine, who serves as a member of the EPP/CD group in the Assembly.
Kox was unable to take the allegations seriously, saying they must "come from a Russian troll factory.” Levitski was a fixture in Strasbourg, but Kox does not remember anything beyond a casual encounter with him more than casual encounters. Additionally, Kox said that he would be the last person to be considered for recruitment by Moscow after his strict reports about unfair Russian elections. He thinks Levitsky simply wrote down his own fantasies to demonstrate his zeal to his superiors in Russia.
Under Kox’s leadership, Russia was expelled from the Council of Europe last spring because of its invasion of Ukraine. But the SP member previously tried to keep Russia on board, according to The Dossier Center. When Russia was suspended in 2014, he allegedly made a case for giving the country back its voting rights. He also secretly advocated for other Russian interests, according to the investigators. That was reason enough for Moscow to do its best to get Kox appointed as chairman, they said.
The SP member did indeed argue in favor of re-admitting the suspended Russian parliamentarians from 2014, he acknowledged. His opinion at the time was that members of parliament from a member state should be welcome if their ministers are allowed to participate. But there was reason for him to take the lead last spring to kick out Russia completely, he said.
Kox also dismissed the notion that Russia orchestrated his election victory earlier this year to take over the presidency. Kox was elected by more than a two-thirds majority. "Then Russia would have to have a very long arm."
He does not feel damaged or weakened by the report. "The group leaders here also said today, 'We are of course behind you. We have chosen you and you are doing a good job.'"
His party is not worried either. "We have taken note of the suspicions. The story is incorrect and unfounded," the SP said.
Kox called it "distasteful" that The Dossier Center researchers also cited a slew of his predecessors who they say were under Moscow’s control. The accusations against elderly former chairs, such as CDA member René van der Linden, are sad, he said.
The Dossier Center is an online publication that says it is a non-commercial project from the Russian opposition activist Khodorkovsky, who lives in London. The Dossier Center accuses the Kremlin of currently being an organized crime operation and says it wants “the rule of law and civil society” to be established in Russia.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times