Dutch security service warned far-right leader Baudet over Russian influence
In 2020, intelligence and security service AIVD warned far-right FvD leader Thierry Baudet that Russian spies might be trying to influence him and his party. The service had information that a woman hanging around the party also maintained close contact with the Russian embassy, the Volkskrant reports.
Baudet confirmed to the Volkskrant that AIVD director Erik Akerboom came to see him in his office in the Tweede Kamer around 2020. According to the far-right politician, it was a “vague and unreal conversation” in which Akerboom casually referred to possible Russian intelligence information. “He said: I still want to warn you; you could be approached by Russian agents,” Baudet told the newspaper.
According to Baudet, the AIVD never said that people around the FvD were in contact with the Russians. “I didn’t take it that way. If that was the case, he should have been more specific.” Akerboom’s “commentary remark” cannot be qualified as a warning, Baudet said.
Investigating democratically elected parties is a sensitive issue within the Dutch intelligence services because they are not supposed to interfere in politics. The fact that the AIVD’s director felt it necessary to contact Baudet in 2020 illustrates the level of concern the service had about Russian influence on Dutch politics, according to the newspaper.
Baudet said he didn’t take any action after his talk with Akerboom. Akerboom’s visit was “a political act,” he said to the Volkskrant. “Either there is a serious threat, and you have to tell me, or you just leave it. When I asked for clarification, I didn’t get it. It was hollow.”
And since 2020, the FvD’s politics have become even more pro-Russian, also after the country invaded Ukraine. Since the invasion a year ago, Baudet called Ukraine a “vassal state of the United States and NATO” and described Russian president Vladimir Putin as “the hero we need to fight against globalists and the American empire.” During an online discussion in October, Baudet said Putin “has to win, and we have to do whatever it takes to support him.”
This week, the AIVD and its military counterpart MIVD released a report on the consequences of the war in Ukraine for the Netherlands and other Western countries. They warned that anti-institution extremists in the Netherlands might be particularly susceptible to Russian influence.
The security services described these extremist groups as following “a narrative about a so-called evil elite.” The groups often use their messaging to allege that the elite wields their power to control “common people” by inventing crises, “such as the coronavirus pandemic, the nitrogen crisis, but also the conflict in Ukraine.” According to the Volkskrant, much of that applies directly to the FvD.
Baudet called the AIVD and MIVD report “Tintin in wonderland” and “a political pamphlet,” according to the newspaper. “Politics are being practiced, but no evidence is being produced. It is journalism of the year zero that such a report is simply taken at face value,” the FvD leader told the Volkskrant.