Marian Kotleba – nazi ideologist, EU hater and Russia backer is running for election

Marian Kotleba is a far-right Slovak neo-Nazi politician. Kotleba, a former governor of the Banaska Bystrica district, is infamous for organising marches in which members of his party dressed in neo-Nazi outfits. 

He has been accused of using hate speech in the past but has never been convicted. His party wants Slovakia to leave the US-led NATO alliance and is harshly critical of the EU. 

And now Kotleba can be elected to the Slovakian Parliament in the 30 September election.

Kotleba’s anti-EU and neo-Nazi views 

The neo-Nazi party “People’s Party – Our Slovakia” (LSNS) openly criticises and expresses hatred regarding the EU and NATO. 

The LSNS calls for Slovakia’s immediate withdrawal from all Western organisations and an end to what they dub an “American occupation of Ukraine”, calling NATO a “terrorist organisation”.

The radical party has publicly expressed support for Slovakia’s World War II Nazi puppet dictatorship, whose commander, Jozef Tiso, assisted in the deportation of tens of thousands of Slovak Jews to extermination camps.

Putin and Assad backer and EU hater

Kotleba is acknowledged for his support of the Russian Federation and the Syrian regime of the dictator Bashar Assad. Kotleba also visited Syria and met with the Syrian House Speaker and Foreign Minister.

With slogans such as “For Slavic unity, against war with Russia” or saying on national television that “Bashar Al-Assad is a Middle-East hero” during his presidential campaign in 2019 and embarked upon further radicalisation, including a return to anti-Roma marches.

Kotleba, while serving as the governor of the Bansko-Bystrica region, personally wrote an appeal to the then President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, a pro-Russian leader, on 31 January 2014 during the Maidan events.

“The European Union needs new markets, and the terrorist organisation NATO is trying to get closer to the borders of the Russian Federation. As an EU Member State citizen, I can responsibly tell you that opening up to the EU will not do the Ukrainian people any good”, Marian Kotleba wrote in his appeal to Yanukovych, who then fled to Russia and left the presidential post.

Far-right neo-nazi parties’ impact in Slovakia

According to the European Center for Populism Studies, “nor are Radical Right parties the sole purveyors of an oblique pro-Russian stance. They may have been outperformed in this respect by a non-radical, centre-right party with motivations rooted in Slovakia’s domestic political conflict.”

The LSNS party has been examined in terms of the Radical Right and political extremism. It is part of a family of Central European Far Right parties, such as Hungary’s Jobbik, that may best be described as a combination of Radical Right and extremist political programmes.

Extremist cadres founded the LSNS; it has constructed a radical and vaguely anti-systemic political programme for public consumption but carefully avoids repudiation of democracy.

Nowadays, anti-European and right-wing radical parties that spread and support Russian propaganda have gained some popularity.

Although European countries are trying to fight and limit the possibilities of radical far-right parties, with the support of Russian funding, they are trying to gain more voters’ backing and spread their propaganda. 

Their messages include typical anti-EU, anti-NATO and pro-Moscow narratives that you would often hear on Russian propaganda media outlets.

Read more: Slovakia’s election possible outcome and disinformation impact.

Kotleba’s hostility to support for Ukraine

In February 2022, members of Kotleba’s party in the Slovak parliament poured water on the Ukrainian flag, unfurled behind the rostrum by members of the Liberal Party for Freedom and Solidarity.

In messages on his Facebook page, Kotleba has repeatedly spoken out against supporting Ukraine, including opposing the provision of Slovakian MIGs to Ukraine.

Kotleba trial case 

Kotleba was accused of publicly expressing sympathy for a campaign to suppress fundamental rights and freedoms by donating €1,488 to several families. This string of digits is said to convey a white supremacist and Neo-Nazi message.

On 12 October 2020, a first-degree court judged him guilty of a more severe felony than the one he was accused of publicly supporting and spreading a movement whose goal is to repress human rights and freedoms.

He received a four-year and four-month term in a minimum-security prison. Kotleba filed an appeal against the verdict.

On 5 April 2022, the Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic overturned the first-degree court’s decision and ruled Kotleba guilty of the offence for which he was originally charged. He was sentenced to 6 months in prison on a suspended basis. So, it allowed him to run in the election.

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