In May 2015, the candidate of the national-conservative party Law and Justice (PiS), Andrzej Duda, won presidential election in Poland. The second largest party regained the power in Poland, after 8 years being in opposition to the liberal government. Later that year, PiS won parliamentary election, with almost 40% of the votes and became the first political party in Poland to win the absolute majority of seats after 1989.
The crisis started after President Andrzej Duda declined to appoint the judges elected to the Constitutional Court by the former parliament, but instead appointed judges loyal to PiS and signed the law that limited the independence of the Constitutional Court. Besides, the government of the PiS fired many journalists of the public media, replacing them with others that are more favorable to the government’s policy.
Radio Maryja, the 7th most popular radio station in Poland, was repeatedly criticized by the Jewish organizations for broadcasting anti-Semitism to its followers. Nevertheless, the current Polish government gave subsidies of approximately $7.5 million to organizations affiliated with Radio Maryja in 2016, and the government Post Office announced a commemorative stamp for Radio Maryja’s 25th anniversary.
Since 2010, Prime Minister of Hungary Victor Orban and his national-conservative Fidesz party have concentrated an unprecedented amount of power and became a firebrand of European nationalist populism. Victor Orban openly described his goal to create an “illiberal state” in Hungary and in March 2017 he called on European nationalist leaders to revolt against an “unholy alliance of Brussels bureaucrats, the liberal world media and insatiable international capitalists”. Open Society Foundations and its founder Hungarian-born Jewish philanthropist George Soros in particular became a scapegoat for the current Hungarian government.
During the 2015 European migrant crisis, Hungarian government rejected EU quotas requiring members to accept a certain number of migrants and built a fence on the border with Serbia. Hungarian officials including the Prime Minister repeatedly claimed that Muslim migrants endanger the country’s identity. The crisis inspired Hungarian far-right party Jobbik whose representatives started organizing in paramilitary units to guard the southern border.
Far-right movements had been active in Ukraine prior the Maidan revolution but it was only after the beginning of the conflict with Russia when they got weapons to fight for the county’s territorial integrity. The most well-known units include “Azov” regiment, “Right Sector” militia and “Svoboda” political party. Although political representation of these groups is low in Ukraine and far-right parties failed to pass a 5% barrier to enter the parliament, they achieved a certain level of acceptance to Ukrainian politics due to their effective and dedicated fight against Russian-backed separatists.
Another disturbing trend is continuing glorification of Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) and Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) who collaborated with the Nazi occupation. Thus, in 2016, Kyiv city council renamed Moscow Avenue to [UPA leader] Stepan Bandera Avenue. A number of Ukrainian and international Jewish groups criticize activity of the Institute of National Remembrance for whitewashing the history of UPA and participation of its members in the Holocaust.
Despite considerable progress on the path of European integration and absence of official or institutionalized anti-Semitism in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, many Estonians and Latvians continue to perceive the veterans of the national Waffen SS units to be patriots and freedom fighters and organize annual torchlight marches commemorating Nazi collaborators. Previously, the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian governments have been criticized for attending the ceremonies and nationalist marches, however, most recently government officials stopped attending the marches.
In Latvia and Estonia, the issue of the rights of Russian-speaking population continues to be topical. The recent European migrant crisis also fueled nationalist and anti-Muslim sentiments in the Baltic States. Desecration of Jewish cemeteries and attacks on the Holocaust memorials happened occasionally in Latvia and Lithuania during the last three years.
During 2016 and beginning of 2017, Russia appeared on front-pages for its either public or tacit support for ultra-nationalist movements and parties in Europe and interference in the elections in the West. Russia was accused of disinformation campaigns, cyberattacks on political parties and public institutions, and financial support for radical and far-right groups.
The 2016 the so-called Yarovaya Laws on enhancing counter-terror and public safety imposed new restrictions on evangelism and missionary work, banning the performance of “missionary activities” in non-religious settings and by non-authorized religious groups and organizations. In November 2016, President Putin supported the idea of the “law on Russian nation” that is being developed since then. This initiative was criticized by the representatives of ethnic and religious communities thought its contents is not clear yet.
The continuing international sanctions against Russia impact the county’s economy and may cause social and political instability. The danger exists that radical elements might take an advantage out of that case.