During this year's International Journalism Festival in Perugia, the German media Correctiv presented its investigation of the Gazprom lobby in Europe which had stirred keen interest. After the presentation, a few European journalists asked the investigators a simple question: “Why do you think lobbying is a problem?” They pointed to the fact that car manufacturers, food companies and other industries all lobby their interests which is considered fair play. If they can do it legally, why can’t gas suppliers do the same?
Asking such a question in April 2023 means that there are still people who cannot fathom the direct connection between the promotion of the interests of the Russian state energy company and the resulting political consequences. Simply put, if you supply more gas to Europe today until it becomes critically dependent on it, you can shut off the tap tomorrow provoking a political crisis which causes public protests, drives wedges within government coalitions, and disrupts entire industries. Russia does not seek mutually beneficial business relations: all it wants is political leverage and hegemony to establish itself as a global superpower equal to the United States and China.
This is why it is so important to understand the pathways of its interference with the economic interests of the European continent and identify the facilitators of such actions. Despite the anti-Russian sanctions and the political pressure not all the bridges between European and Russian businesses have been burnt. There are still plenty of entrepreneurs both sides of the border who look forward to a lull in the fighting to restore their business contacts and resume business operations.
TEXTY is presenting “The Atlas of Russian Lobby in Europe” project which offers an insight into the representatives of various circles who, one way or another, facilitated or have been facilitating the promotion of Russian business interests in the EU — from government officials to PR experts and lawyers, from “Russian friendship” groups to informal networking forums. Despite the fact that many of such initiatives have been put on hold, once the war is over or as soon as there is a temporary deescalation, those individuals and entities are likely to be among the most vocal supporters of restoring the former economic ties with Russia.