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NGO Institute for Security Policy, Austrian Ministry of Defense, and Valdai-Club: Case study on Russian influence in Central Europe

In August 2018, Russian President Putin made headlines by dancing arm-in-arm with Austria’s Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl at her wedding. The “friendliness” of Austria’s politicians with Russia is no coincidence – it is a result of Russian long-term influence operations over Austrian institutions, one of which is the Ministry of Defense
NGO Institute for Security Policy, Austrian Ministry of Defense, and Valdai-Club: Case study on Russian influence in Central Europe
Article by: Alliance for a Stable Democracy
This is a report about Russian influence over Austria. There, an NGO with shady financing, suspected money flows to the right-wing populist Freedom Party, and an overtly pro-Russian agenda, has become a portal for the projection of the Kremlin’s soft power upon the Austrian Armed Forces.

Funded by the Austrian Ministry of Defense and a gambling company, it has managed to get the country’s National Defense Academy involved in the activities of the Valdai Discussion Club, a propaganda stage of the Kremlin, and the Dialogue of Civilizations, a think tank founded by a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin — with all ensuing consequences for Austria’s security policy.

The report was written by the Alliance for a Stable Democracy – a collective of authors who desire to remain anonymous. Euromaidan Press has verified the identity of one of the authors — a trusted specialist in the field — and is publishing the report because publicizing this in-depth analysis of Russian influence in Austria is in the public interest. Read its Russian version here.


This report investigates the attempted – and partly “successful” – Russian influence in the Austrian Ministry of Defense as well as in organizations in its “entourage.”

It starts with the Vienna-based Institute for Security Policy, or ISP, which since its inception is located in a law firm. The attorney-at-law there himself acts as president of the ISP, whose only other employee is a young Austrian lawyer of ethnic Russian origin.

Especially since 2018, the sources and use of ISP’s financial means have attracted the interest of various media in Austria and Germany – and also that of the Austrian Office of the Public Prosecutor for Economic Affairs and Corruption: the ISP is one of those private associations that has been or is being checked for possible hidden money flows to political parties, in particular to the Freedom Party of Austria. 

In the meantime, it is undisputed that the gambling company Novomatic and the Austrian Ministry of Defense generously funded the ISP. While this is not illegal, it is undoubtedly completely unusual internationally and raises numerous questions about the background and reasons. Many of them are discussed in this paper.

An analysis of the ISP’s activities yields clear results: it has a highly pro-Russian agenda. Despite this – or perhaps precisely because of it – its only employee was used for years by the Austrian Ministry of Defense in general and by the National Defense Academy (the supreme education and training institution of the Austrian Armed Forces, the Bundesheer) in particular as an author and “specialist” on Russia.

The ISP‘s “expertise,” however, is “non-existent” to the point of embarrassment; the Ministry of Defense constantly disgraced itself with this cooperation. The main blame for this lies with the management of the National Defense Academy, which cooperated with the ISP and its staff for a long time and still clings to it today. And at no time had this management truly countered Russian attempts at “influence.” This is shown, among other things, by the fact that it opened the Academy to Vladimir Yakunin – a personal friend of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. And the Academy via the ISP got involved in the activities of Valdai Discussion Club, a propaganda stage of the Kremlin.

Furthermore, the report examines the place of the Academy in the ISP‘s network and considers the role of Yakunin’s Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute, of the (now defunct) German payment service provider Wirecard, and some aspects of the activities of the Austrian-Russian Friendship Society.

The NGO “Institute for Security Policy”,
the Austrian Ministry of Defense,
and the “Valdai-Club”:
A case study on Russian influence in Central Europe


According to the Austrian weekly magazine Profil, the Vienna-based Institute for Security Policy (Institut für Sicherheitspolitik, or ISP) was founded in November 2016[1]; however, on its homepage, it claims that it was not founded until 2017. It is undisputed, however, that it was and is located in the Vienna-based law firm of Markus Tschank. Tschank himself acts as president of the ISP, whose only other employee is the lawyer Alexander Dubowy.

Markus Tschank, President of the Institute for Security Policy (ISP). Photo:

On 11 March 2020, the Austrian Federal Criminal Police Office [in German: Bundeskriminalamt] conducted a house search at Tschank’s law firm. The ISP’s “infrastructure” there proved to be very sparse: Dubowy’s “workplace” is a small desk with a computer in a corner of the meeting room. The investigators asked the secretary and a trainee lawyer to present to which extent the ISP actually uses the office premises. The latter claimed to have seen Dubowy at the office “about once a month.”[2]

The funding of the Institute for Security Policy

Naturally, every institution that wants to publish and organize or visit events of others on a permanent basis needs considerable financial resources. Their origin and use by the ISP has attracted the interest of various media, especially since 2018 – and also that of the Office of the Public Prosecutor for Economic Affairs and Corruption [Wirtschafts- und Korruptionsstaatsanwaltschaft]: the ISP is one of those private associations [Vereine] that has been or is being checked by the latter for possible hidden money flows to “political parties” (meaning: the right-wing populist Freedom Party of Austria).

(Left to right) Ludwig Scharinger, President of the Society of Austrian-Russian Friendship (ORFG); Sergey Nechaev (Russia’s Ambassador to Austria); Hans-Christian Strache, the head of the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ); Florian Stermann (Secretary General of the ORFG); and Johann Gudenus, one of the leading members of the FPÖ. Vienna, 23 March 2015. Read more on the Party.

Generally known is a cooperation agreement between the ISP and Novomatic — according to its own description “one of the largest gaming technology groups in the world.” According to Tschank, the contract was signed in 2018, when – coincidentally or not – he was just a member of the National Council, the Lower House of the Austrian Parliament, for the Freedom Party).

It runs until the end of 2020, whereby Novomatic has committed itself to total payments of – according to various statements – between EUR 200,000 and 240,000 and in return receives “defined benefits.”[3] But one can also find the information that Novomatic only in 2018 and 2019 has paid EUR 240.000 to the ISP.[4]

Anyway, Novomatic press secretary Bernhard Krumpel confirmed a “multi-year cooperation agreement” with the ISP. The cooperation exists

“among other things due to the requirements of international gambling authorities [,] to strengthen our competencies in the area of security and safety and to demonstrate activities. For this reason, joint projects and individual cooperations have been and are being carried out with ISP, whereby our contract term is identical to that of the [Austrian] Ministry of Defense, which is a major cooperation partner of the ISP.”[5]

Krumpel explained to the Austrian Press Agency that Novomatic had “of course” disclosed all this to the authorities. According to Novomatic, there was “no secret” at all, as the company was also represented at ISP events with its own logo. Talks about the cooperation had already started before the coalition of the Austrian People’s Party and the Freedom Party (formed in December 2017), namely when the coalition of the Social Democratic Party and the People’s Party under Federal Chancellor (Prime Minister) Christian Kern was yet in power.[6]

Tschank repeats at every opportunity that the ISP is a “non-partisan think tank for security policy.”[7] This, however, immediately leads to the fundamental question of why a gambling company needs “analyses” of security policy and specifically of Vladimir Putin’s Russia (see below): it is unlikely, or would have to be proven first, that exactly this is what emerges from any “specifications of international gambling authorities.”

Is Novomatic perhaps active in Russia’s lucrative online gambling sector? At the beginning of February 2019 Thomas Graf, at that time responsible for technology on Novomatic’s management board, commented that the company would only enter regulated markets “which is why Russia or China is out of the question.”[8]

Be that as it may, it is Tschank’s ceterum censeo since 2018 that all income from the cooperation agreements was “always properly taxed” and that there had “at no time been any direct or indirect payment flows to a party or party-related organizations.” This would be “completely incompatible” with the statutes of the ISP.[9] However, one searches in vain for these statutes on the ISP’s homepage.

The spokesman of the Austrian Ministry of Defense, Michael Bauer, justified in interviews the payments to the ISP: it receives “the same amount as other cooperation institutes.” Moreover, Bauer confirmed that the agreement between the Ministry of Defense and the ISP had already been concluded at the beginning of 2017, i.e. under Social Democratic Defense Minister Hans Peter Doskozil. Bauer’s explanation for the selection of the ISP as a cooperation partner seemed flowery, not to say meaningless:

“The Ministry of Defense is also bound by democratic political dynamics. Only the consideration of all factors can guarantee a comprehensive security policy assessment.”

Even when asked – more than justifiably – whether an institute with a president (i.e. Tschank) who sits on the board of the Austrian-Russian Friendship Society (see below) was suitable for providing “analyses” about Russia, Bauer replied evasively: the “emphasis” of the ISP was “fixed on security policy issues concerning the neighboring countries — the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, and the Western Balkans.”[10]

However, all visitors to the ISP’s homepage can see for themselves that these countries or regions are clearly not the focus of its activities, but the former Soviet Union and specifically Russia.

Tschank later resigned from the board of the Austrian-Russian Friendship Society, but Brigadier General Gustav E. Gustenau, Deputy Head of the Directorate for Security Policy of the Ministry of Defense and (until February 2020) its liaison to the Secretariat of the Austrian National Security Council, went on to be represented in the Presidium of this Society (which its homepage then openly communicated) – as did Johannes Huebner, a Viennese attorney-at-law, who served as an MP for the Freedom Party between 2008 and 2017.

In February 2012, the public learned that a small Freedom Party delegation, consisting of its foreign affairs spokesman Huebner and Johann Gudenus (who speaks some Russian and was “the most energetic advocate of the pro-Russian position” in the Party[11]), had traveled to Grozny in order to meet Ramzan Kadyrov, ruler of Chechnya, a republic of Russia situated in the North Caucasus. In an interview for a Chechen TV station, Huebner said that he was “impressed by the republic’s [= Chechnya] progress.”[12]

This visit reflected the Freedom Party’s eagerness to send the Chechen refugees in Austria to Russia as soon as possible – something Kadyrov is striving for as well. The Austrian Foreign Ministry branded the Freedom Party’s decision to send a delegation to Kadyrov as “absurd.”[13] However, the Freedom Party did not distance itself from its “subsidiary foreign policy.”

In March 2014 Gudenus and Huebner belonged to the “international observers” who conducted a “fake monitoring”[14] of the “referendum” on the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, already occupied by Russian troops (the trip had been organized by the Moscow-funded organization “Eurasian Observatory for Democracy and Elections,” led by the Belgian “National Bolshevik” Luc Michel); de facto it had been nothing but a comédie plébiscitaire.[15]

In 2017 Huebner withdrew from the Freedom Party candidate list for the National Council election after anti-Semitic allusions in a lecture in 2016 had reached the public.[16]

In June 2020, Gudenus (who, from autumn 2019 onwards, got into troubles because of growing evidence of cocaine use during his political career[17] – he was Deputy Mayor of Vienna) claimed that the proposal to create the ISP did not come from his party but from Hans Peter Doskozil.

Doskozil, according to Gudenus, had suggested to the Freedom Party by telephone that it should set up an association focused on security policy, modeled on similar projects of the Social Democratic Party and the Austrian People’s Party, which would then be funded by the Ministry of Defense (Doskozil strongly denied this[18]). Gudenus continued to describe this alleged idea of Doskozil’s as good “because very, very much has happened in this association [the ISP], concerning security policy, strategy and the like.”[19]

The office of Doskozil, who is now the Governor of the Burgenland province, strongly disputed Gudenus’ account: The ISP had “not received a cent” during Doskozil’s tenure as Minister of Defense. However, the office stated that it is true that every ministry “also depends on buying expertise and getting advice.”

According to his office, Governor Doskozil assumes that his successors as Defense Minister have examined the provision of services before releasing funds to the ISP. If there had been a corresponding performance by the ISP, there was no problem. In any case, this had nothing to do with the financing of political parties.

With this opinion, Governor Doskozil’s office, intentionally or unintentionally, backed the relevant statements by Tschank. However, Tschank emphasized that under Minister Doskozil (who was in office between 26 January 2016 and 18 December 2017) there had been payments from the Ministry of Defense to the ISP.[20]

The politically interested observer rubs the eyes: Is it really difficult or even impossible to prove or disprove unequivocally whether a federal ministry – which in principle is not allowed to spend a single cent without written documentation – transferred money to a private association not so long ago?

On 21 June 2020, the Viennese daily newspaper Der Standard reported, citing the ISP’s internal accounting (i.e. not documents from state authorities), that the ISP had in fact already received money from the Ministry of Defense under Minister Doskozil – exactly EUR 100,000 on 1 June 2017. In response, Governor Doskozil’s office admitted a “mistake due to a false level of information.” In Doskozil’s decision of 2017 to finance the ISP, however, the office still could not identify any problem.[21]

It is also not irrelevant that the ISP received donations from an ILAG Vermögensverwaltungs GmbH (“Asset Management”), which is wholly owned by an Industrieliegenschafts AG (“Industrial Property Company”). The latter company, whose supervisory board includes former Vice-Chancellor (Deputy Prime Minister) Michael Spindelegger (People’s Party), is owned by the Turnauer family of entrepreneurs, known in Austria for its discretion.

But for what specific purpose did these two companies sponsor the ISP and other Freedom Party-related associations with allegedly EUR 475,000 between November 2015 and August 2018[22] with 100,000 for the ISP alone in June 2018?[23]

In December 2017 Mario Kunasek (Freedom Party) became Minister of Defense in a coalition with the Austrian People’s Party of Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. Kunasek naturally had no objections to his Ministry’s payments to the ISP. A parliamentary interpellation [parlamentarische Anfrage] from MPs of the then and now opposition party Neos (Liberals) to Kunasek about the ISP, received on 21 November 2018, referred to reports in Profil and asked in particular which services the ISP provides for EUR 200,000 per year, in relation to the period between the beginning of 2017 and the end of 2020.[24]

The coalition of the People’s Party and the Freedom Party broke up over Ibizagate. The scandal sparked in May 2019 from a video secretly recorded in Ibiza, Spain, which appeared to show former vice-chancellor of Austria and leader of the Freedom Party Heinz-Christian Strache and Freedom Party deputy leader Johan Gudenus savoring proposals of a niece of a woman posing as a niece of a Russian businessman providing positive news coverage for the party in exchange for government contracts.

After Ibizagate, a “non-political” caretaker government [Beamtenregierung] under Federal Chancellor Brigitte Bierlein followed. From this period, namely from 4 July 2019, dates the motion for a resolution [Entschließungsantrag] “Concerning 200,000 € from the Kunasek Ministry of Defense for a Freedom Party-related association” by the People’s Party MP’s Josef Moser and Michael Hammer. Here, a “pro-Russian orientation” of the ISP is stated (see also below) and documented, among other things, with a quotation from a publication by Dubowy. Furthermore, this document said:

“The President of the ISP, Freedom Party MP Markus Tschank, is under investigation by the Economic and Corruption Prosecutor’s Office on suspicion of embezzlement and fraudulent transactions. These investigations are related to the so-called Ibiza video. The Economic and Corruption Prosecutor’s Office is investigating the suspicion of covert party financing by Freedom Party-related associations in which MP Tschank was active. In view of these accusations, a review of the service agreement [Leistungsvereinbarung] between the Federal Ministry of Defense, which was headed by Freedom Party Minister of Defense Mario Kunasek, and the ISP, managed by Freedom Party MP Markus Tschank, is therefore unavoidable.”

According to the motion for a resolution, the Internal Audit Department of the Ministry of Defense should therefore be commissioned to examine the service agreement between the Ministry and the ISP and its specific services in accordance with the principles of economic efficiency, expediency, legality, and thrift and should report to the National Council by 15 August 2019 at the latest.[25]

Now nobody should ignore the fact that the Austrian People’s Party itself cannot do without “pro-Russian” officials, who are to be found in particularly high numbers in the Economic Chamber (which claims to represent the interests of Austrian business), where Putin receives standing ovations on each of his visits.

In any case, the non-partisan defense minister of the caretaker government, Thomas Starlinger, in his written response of 13 August 2019 to the motion for a resolution found nothing at all wrong with the legacy of his predecessor Kunasek. Starlinger did not even mention the “pro-Russian orientation” of the ISP.

Instead, he referred generally to all – formally private – associations with which the Ministry of Defense “cooperates.”[26] (in plain language: which keeps it alive with taxpayers’ money). In an appendix to Starlinger’s unilluminating letter, there was an overview of all these institutions, apart from the ISP itself:

  • the Austria Institute for Europe and Security Policy;
  • the Austrian Study Centre for Peace and Conflict Research;
  • the Bruno Kreisky Forum;
  • and the Austrian Institute for International Politics.

The first one is considered to be close to the Austrian People’s Party, the other three are more or less close to the Social Democratic Party. About the ISP it is stated here:

“In generating knowledge relevant to the Federal Ministry of Defense, the ISP focuses on the analysis of interactions of political projections from the US and Russia” (what actually are “interactions of political projections from the US and Russia”?) And further in the text: “The services provided by the ISP show a high quality and policy relevance within the security and defense policy consultation process of the Federal Ministry of Defense.”[27]

In other words, an objective examination of the content of the ISP’s activities or of the Ministry of Defense’s “cooperation” with it did not even begin to take place. However, it would be necessary to do so in order to estimate the burden on the taxpayer that results from the support of the ISP by the Ministry of Defense – not to mention possible hidden financing for the Freedom Party.

By the way, on 2 December 2019 the ISP together with Novomatic organized a lecture by Severin Glaser from the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration on the topic “Money Laundering – Risk Factors & Prevention in Theory and Practice” in the Palais Eschenbach in downtown Vienna. In all seriousness, without any satirical intent.

But how could Starlinger, who during his six-month term of office repeatedly drew attention to the – in fact undoubtedly existing – dramatic underfunding of the Austrian Armed Forces and who certainly has nothing to do with the Freedom Party (as Adjutant to Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, who had been party leader of the Greens for years), justify the expenses for the ISP? Or did he not even read what the bureaucrats of his ministry had presented to him for signature?

These are only a few of the many questions that inevitably arise when dealing with the ISP, its activities, and its financial management. Most of the answers are still missing – also and precisely because many of the people originally or even still involved in all these events are either silent and stonewalling, trying to cover up or even laying false trails.

Tschank, as a lawyer — who does not represent an impoverished professional group — and at times an MP with a corresponding salary, via the ISP took extra incomes to make the average earner green with envy or blush with anger. Thus, on the basis of a decision by the ISP’s Executive Committee in February 2018, he collected a net amount of EUR 36,000 per year as a “management fee.”


Ukraine prepares sanctions against Austrian firm over flagship opera house in occupied Crimea


In addition, he regularly charged for activities (telephone calls, e-mails, etc.) which he allegedly or actually carried out for the ISP at an hourly rate of EUR 350. In addition, there were “overhead costs” [Regiekosten], i.e. “rent and personnel costs for the office,” which Tschank charged at a flat rate: another EUR 9,000 for three months. And ISP President Tschank also issued invoices to the lawyer Tschank for “legal advice.”

Der Standard concluded that the ISP was a “lucrative source of money” for Tschank.[28] With key reference to the newspaper’s report, the Neos tabled a further parliamentary interpellation about the ISP and Tschank to Minister of Justice Alma Zadić (Greens) on 12 March 2020.[29] She replied exactly two months later with an explicit reference to the ISP that the expense accounts there were not the subject of investigations by the public prosecutor. The subject is “rather donations made to party-related associations, whereby from a criminal law perspective only the suspicion of embezzlement on the part of the donors is examined […].”[30]

In the present context, Tschank’s appearance before the Ibizagate inquiry committee [Untersuchungsausschuss] of the National Council on 10 June 2020 is also relevant. Tschank, who is still under investigation by the Office of the Public Prosecutor for Economic Affairs and Corruption (which had requested the withdrawal of his parliamentary immunity; this was granted on 13 June 2019 – with his own vote, among others), made extensive use of his right to refute the statement; but of course, he denied any payments to the Freedom Party via the ISP.

The Neo MP Stephanie Krisper suspected, however, that EUR 45,000 had been paid by the ISP to two companies, including Tschank’s Imbeco GmbH, in which Gudenus – Heinz-Christian Strache’s fellow drinker at the notorious meeting with a faked “niece of a Russian oligarch” on Ibiza in July 2017 – and the current head of Vienna’s branch of the Freedom Party, Dominik Nepp, were also involved.

Kai Jan Krainer, Social Democratic MP and member of the National Council’s Ibizagate inquiry committee concluded that “money from Novomatic has been channeled to politicians via the ISP and a private limited company [Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung].”[31]

Gudenus and Nepp claimed to have seen “not a single cent.” And Novomatic had from the very beginning denied any payments to the Freedom Party or any of its associations, in order not to leave Strache’s saying “Novomatic pays them all” on Ibiza without comment. Strache, the then head of the Freedom Party, on Ibiza had also quite explicitly mentioned associations as a way of bypassing the Court of Audit Austria (Rechnungshof Österreich) by making donations to the Freedom Party. According to Profil, the Austrian judiciary as of June 2020 considered Novomatic’s payments to the ISP as a “suspected bribe.”[32] And the same magazine gained the impression from the analysis of Strache’s comments in Ibiza that he behaved “like a Novomatic press spokesperson.”[33]

In June 2020 it became known that Strache himself was also involved in Imbeco, which he had reported to the Court of Audit, but not to Parliament. The ISP transferred EUR 27,000 to Imbeco (which it later paid back). And another company of Tschank, Pegasus, sent money to the ISP.[34] In the same month, it turned out that – after it had long been assumed that the ISP should have “collected” donations exclusively “directed” to the Freedom Party – the Party, in turn, (also) paid to the ISP, namely EUR 25,000 in 2017 and 10,000 in 2018. The purpose of these transactions is unclear.[35]

It is also interesting that MP Tschank was connected with Krumpel (who was earlier press secretary of the member of the government [Landesrat] of the Lower Austria province in charge of finances, People’s Party member Wolfgang Sobotka (since December 2017 Speaker of the National Council): until 2016 they operated a private limited company named Polimedia, which at least in 2013 and 2014 worked for the Freedom Party’s Viennese branch on a contract basis.

At the end of 2016, a man then unknown to the Austrian public replaced Krumpel as Polimedia managing director: Peter Sidlo, a long-time Freedom Party district council member in Vienna-Alsergrund. At the beginning of 2018, the Polimedia was sent into liquidation. Is it really a coincidence that Sidlo’s brother-in-law Markus Braun (who must not be confused with the former manager of the payment service provider Wirecard of exactly the same name; see below) became the cashier of the ISP? Not likely, since he was a key player in the Freedom Party-related network of associations – and chairman of the association Austria in Motion, which – like the ISP – was suspected of having received donations for Strache’s Freedom Party.[36] Krumpel aroused the interest of the Office of the Public Prosecutor for Economic Affairs and Corruption at the beginning of March 2020 at the latest; in the following month, it was announced that he was leaving Novomatic.

Events and expert pool of the ISP

In May 2018, Tschank’s ISP appeared as organizer of a “Central European Security Conference” in Vienna’s exclusive Park Hyatt Hotel, where allegedly “current security policy threats in Europe” were debated – with the participation of the ministers Mario Kunasek (defense), Norbert Hofer (Transport, Innovation, and Technology) and Karin Kneissl (Foreign Affairs), who were all provided or nominated by the Freedom Party.

President of the Institute for Security Policy (ISP), Markus Tschank, the coordinator of the Southeast European Cooperation Initiative (SECI), Erhard Busek, Hungary’s special ambassador Georg von Habsburg, the Slovenian Interior Minister Vesna Györkös Žnidar, Croatia’s deputy Minister for Defense Policy, Petar Mihatov, and the Minister for the Bulgarian EU Council Presidency, Lilyana Pavlova at a panel discussion of the conference, discussing illegal migration as the “main threat” to Europe. Photo:

In addition, Freedom Party member Wolfgang Baumann, then Secretary-General of the Ministry of Defense, as well as politicians from Slovenia, Bulgaria, and Croatia, among others, attended.

Reports on this scientifically unproductive but finally excessive event can still be found on the homepages of the Ministry of Defense[37] and the Order of St. George.[38] There, in turn, numerous Freedom Party officials are or were active as “honorary knights,” including Hofer, who in 2019 succeeded Strache as head of the Freedom Party, Gudenus, and Tschank. The order, led by Karl Habsburg (grandson of the last Emperor of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, Karl) as Grand Master, “aims at the veneration of St. George as the patron saint of chivalry” and supports “the old Austrian idea of the state”[39] – whatever that is supposed to accomplish in practice at the beginning of the 21st century.

In February 2019, Udo Landbauer, Freedom Party member of the provincial parliament [Landtag] of Lower Austria, held a three-day workshop for the ISP in the five-star Hotel Weisses Rössl in the fashionable Austrian winter sports resort Kitzbühel on the topic “Neutrality and Security in Central Europe.” The ISP usually advertises its events quite actively, but this time it was a closed society meeting. Tschank, who was asked about the participants, stayed ostentatiously silent. As to the benefits of the event, he replied by referring to Landbauer’s position as a spokesman on security-related issues for the Lower Austrian branch of the Freedom Party.[40]


Austria: a weak link in Europe or historical ally of Ukraine?


Also in February 2019, the ISP, the Austrian-Russian Friendship Society as well as the Research Group for Polemology and Legal Ethics at the University of Vienna (which, in turn, cooperates closely with the National Defense Academy in Vienna; see below) invited to the presentation of a “political thriller,” namely “2054 – Putin decoded” by Alexander Rahr.

Occupied and reintegrated breakaway regions in Europe. Based on a map by

The German Rahr, who likes to be addressed as “Germany’s best-known expert on Russia” as well as “professor” (he is honorary professor of two Moscow universities), is the author of numerous publications on Russia and one of the most influential “Putin understanders” [Putinversteher] in the German-speaking countries.

Rahr can “explain” everything – Putin’s authoritarian and nationalist regime, its wars against Ukraine, as well as in Syria and Libya and the annexations of Crimea and, de facto, the breakaway territories in Moldova (Dniester region) and Georgia (Abkhazia, South Ossetia).

However, Rahr is first and foremost a lobbyist for the Kremlin-controlled natural gas giant Gazprom; he has never had anything to do with scientific or “only” critically independent political analysis.

A hint of this circumstance can even be found in a report on this event, which the Austrian-Russian Friendship Society put on its homepage: it says that Rahr “works as a management consultant in the energy industry and advises Gazprom Brussels, among others.”[41] Rahr has been a regular guest in various media for many years, and statements such as “The Americans amputated the Germans’ brains,” “The Germans are addicted to Israel’s moral strength because the Holocaust is constantly being rubbed in their faces” and “The West is behaving like the Soviet Union”[42] (and many more similar ones) have never caused him any lasting harm. And obviously, in the eyes of the ISP and those who run and finance it, he has not discredited himself in any way.

Alexander Dubowy, employee of the Institute for Security Policy (ISP). Photo:

As of mid-June 2020, the ISP homepage listed more than 50 persons from Austria, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the United States, Russia, China, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Canada, Belarus, and Portugal, who are referred to as “experts,” although it is not always clear what their specific relationship to the ISP is.[43]

Dubowy counts himself among the “experts” of his own ISP; in addition, there are, among others, Rahr and the Russian political scientist Sergei Markedonov, whose interpretations of events are habitually consonant with the official positions of the Kremlin (which has undoubtedly made it easy for Dubowy and Markedonov to publish jointly[44]).

Basically, the question arises, whether all the people appearing in the “experts” section are aware of their honor. There was, at least, one occasion when this was not the case, and when the person in question learned about it and asked Dubowy to be removed from the list, he did so immediately. Some of the “experts” also appear on the ISP homepage as authors of “working papers.”

But there are also authors who (in the meantime) cannot be found among the “experts.” Special attention should be paid to the “Russian German” Yuri Kofner, who was mentioned as an “expert” on the ISP homepage until at least 18 August 2019, but disappeared from the list soon after. However, he remained on the homepage as an author of publications for several months before he was removed from it in this capacity as well.[45] He is a – benevolently formulated – dazzling personality:

“Anyone who enters the network around Kofner will come across bizarre institutes and personalities: There are former KGB [Soviet intelligence and counterintelligence] agents, neo-Nazis, fascist publicists like the ‘SS admirer’ Alexander Dugin and Putin confidants like Vladimir Yakunin. Again and again, traces of right-wing organizations in Vienna and Germany lead to people in the circle of the Russian Government”[46]

– and, as one could add, later on to the ISP (this Standard article had been published in 2016, i.e. before its foundation).[47]

Kofner was active in the printed journal Compact, edited by the German Jürgen Elsässer, which supports Putin and constantly spreads conspiracy theories (Kofner, among others, interviewed the head of the right-wing extremist Austrian “Identitarians,” Martin Sellner, as well as Elsässer himself[48]), is a permanent guest in Russian state-run media and has excellent contacts even to high-ranking officials in Moscow.
Yuri Kofner (right) shakes hands with Igor Girkin, the Russian FSB officer who, in his own words, “pulled the trigger of war” in eastern Ukraine. This photo can still be found online despite having been deleted from Kofner’s FB page

Kofner, who is also chairman of a “Russian Eurasian Movement” (although he claimed to have distanced himself from Dugin – the main ideologist of Russian Neo-eurasianism, who openly called for war against Ukraine in 2014, among other things), posted on his Facebook page photos showing him together with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov[49], Vladimir Yakunin[50], the pro-Kremlin politician Konstantin Kosachev[51], Alexander Gauland of the extreme right-wing party Alternative for Germany (Alternative für Deutschland, or AfD)[52] and, mirabile dictu, the then head of the Austrian Economic Chamber, Christoph Leitl (People’s Party).[53] A picture with the Russian secret service agent Igor Girkin (nom de guerre “Strelkov“; he directly claimed to have unleashed the war against Ukraine in spring 2014) was removed by Kofner.[54]

Anton Shekhovtsov, an expert on right-wing extremism, commented personally to Kofner:

“You supported the destruction of Ukraine and your friendly handshake with a mass murderer [Girkin] is too natural.”[55]

Indeed, in 2014 Kofner openly advocated the territorial dismemberment of Ukraine:

Novorossiya is occupied by the forces of the illegal fascist oligarchic junta from Kiev, which itself is a collaborator regime of the American Empire and receives orders from Washington. Therefore, the ‚Russian Spring‘ should be understood as a popular and national liberation movement of Novorossiya. Novorossiya is a new sovereign state formed from eight former southeastern oblasts of Ukraine (Odesa, Nikolaev, Kherson, Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporozhye, Kirovograd) and possibly also Transnistria.”[56]

No less important than what can be found on the ISP homepage is what is missing there: critical analyses of Russian politics, starting with Putin’s undemocratic policy at home and ending with the wars he has been waging for years: 1999-2009 in Chechnya in the North Caucasus, 2008 against Georgia, since 2014 against Ukraine (with occupation and annexation of parts of its territory), since 2015 in Syria (to keep Bashar al-Assad, who has repeatedly used chemical weapons against his own people, in power) and now also in Libya.

For example, the targeted bombing of Syrian hospitals by the Russian air force and other equally unedifying events are “non-issues” for the ISP. One can even understand this subjectively: Dubowy does not want to jeopardize his excellent contacts with Moscow and the Russian Embassy in Vienna.

Vladimir Putin’s close associate Vladimir Yakunin, “Chairman of the Board of Trustees of St Andrew the First-Called Foundation and Centre of National Glory, Founding President and Co-chairman of the World Public Forum Dialogue of Civilizations and Co-president of the Franco-Russian dialogue Association,” according to his LinkedIn profile. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Yuri GolovinAlso worthy of note is the “Performance Review of the Institute for Security Policy 2017-2019” published on the homepage of the Austrian Parliament.[57]

It shows a “strong involvement” of Rahr, Markedonov and Fyodor Lukyanov (see below) into the ISP‘s activities. In addition, there are, among others, Lothar Höbelt, Professor of modern history at the University of Vienna, who has never concealed his affiliation with the Freedom Party; Christian Stadler, Professor of the philosophy of law at the University of Vienna (and Dubowy’s doctoral supervisor, who has long supported him); and Harald Kujat, former Inspector General of the German Bundeswehr, who has been a member of the supervisory board of Yakunin’s Dialogue of Civilizations since 2016 and who has proven himself “worthy” of this position through numerous media appearances with a pro-Putin slant.

One has to suppress a laugh when reading, for example, that on 16 April 2018 the ISP organized a panel discussion on the topic “Ukraine, quo vadis?” in cooperation with the Austrian-Russian Friendship Society: Should this guarantee the greatest possible “objectivity”?

Political Positions of Tschank and Dubowy

Certainly, it was not to be expected that MP Tschank would make critical remarks about Putin in the National Council. Instead, he said, for example, in a speech on 21 March 2018, “The West’s relationship with Russia is what [the last Soviet leader] Mikhail Gorbachev calls the new Cold War. Massive economic sanctions are straining relations between the West and Russia.”[58] So, there is not a single word about the annexation of Crimea, which triggered these – almost toothless – EU sanctions in 2014.

And Dubowy? He is an ethnic Russian who was (by the way, not as Alexander, but as Ruslan) born in Semipalatinsk (Kazakhstan), but has lived in Austria for many years (and now considers himself a “trained Austrian” [“gelernter Österreicher”].[59]

But much more important than this is that he does his best (usually with success) not to speak skeptically about Putin and his political course. Exactly this characteristic has earned him the job in the ISP. When Dubowy noticed that more and more journalists were interested in him and his role in the ISP, he made efforts (with limited success, however) not to be mentioned in the respective articles – among other things by offering to be “useful in other matters.” He even denied what he himself had said in interviews and what was still available on the Internet.

However, Dubowy became increasingly nervous. In November 2020, for example, he threatened an independent Viennese think tank with a lawsuit in a criminal court if it did not remove a completely harmless article, in which Dubowy had not been accused of a single offense, from its website. At the same time, Dubowy tried to remove “traces” of his contacts with the Dialogue of Civilizations, but had only limited success, given their large number on the Internet.

Moreover, Dubowy claimed that he was by no means a “person of public interest.” This was odd insofar as he has been reported on countless occasions in the press and had also been the subject of the attention of various members of the Austrian National Council (see above), notably in parliamentary interpellations and in the Ibizagate inquiry committee (where Tschank, who was asked about Dubowy by a representative of his own Freedom Party, invoked his right to refuse to give evidence[60]).

And what does Dubowy has to offer in terms of expertise?

Significantly, he “doubted” the authorship of Russian secret services for the attack on the Russian defector Sergei Skripal and his daughter in March 2018 in Salisbury, England; and he also had advice for the investigators: “The motives for this act should rather be sought in the professional and private surroundings of Sergei Skripal.”[61]

Also highly questionable are Dubowy’s opinions on Ukraine:

“The Minsk agreements remain the only basis for resolving the Donbas conflict to this day. But their implementation depends on both international and Ukrainian national preconditions. The central international precondition is cooperation between Washington and Moscow.”[62]

No, Mr. Dubowy. The “central international precondition” for the solution of what you here call the “Donbas conflict” is an end of Russia‘s war against Ukraine, which you have never been able to bring yourself to condemn.

Neither is Dubowy successful at predictions. For example, on the occasion of amendments to the Russian Constitution introduced in January 2020 in the State Duma, the Lower House of the Russian Parliament, he believed in an allegedly planned “limitation of presidential terms of office.”[63]

In an interview in the following month, he said that Putin would probably leave office in 2024. Dubowy justified this opinion, among other things, by saying that the Russian President “is not getting any younger” (!?) and “does not want to become Mugabe”[64] (this was a reference to the now-deceased President of Zimbabwe, who still ruled his country at over 90 years of age).

By 10 March 2020 at the latest, however, Dubowy was convinced about Putin’s “re-election” as President in 2024[65] (without, of course, being able to criticize this). So should Putin – contrary to Dubowy’s original opinion – nevertheless want to “become Mugabe”? In any case, this argumentative “slalom race” is only one of many possible examples that can be used to prove the complete incompetence of this – as his position in the ISP is officially called – “scientific director” (who does not have a single subordinate).

Moreover, between 25 June and 1 July 2020 a referendum on amendments to the Russian constitution was held which brought the expected result in the sense that Putin can now remain in office until 2036. He would then be 84 years old.

With Belarus, Dubowy is not better acquainted.

In August 2020, he fantasized in a newspaper commentary that the authoritarian president Alyaksandr Lukashenka had the “chance” to “enter the history of his country as the founding father of the modern Belarusian state.”

Founding father? This was clearly Stanislav Shushkevich, 1991-1994 Speaker of Parliament and then, in this capacity, also Head of State, whom Dubowy met personally several times and whose role he should therefore know. And Lukashenka hates the country whose President he now is: repeatedly, he claimed to have been the only member of the Belarusian parliament who, on 10 December 1991, voted against the ratification of the Belavezha Accords, which declared the Soviet Union dissolved and granted Belarus independence. Lukashenka never concealed his desire for an (if only partial) “restoration” of the USSR – and, if at all possible, under his own leadership.


Austrian neutrality is no model for Ukraine


Yakunin’s Dialogue of Civilizations has been holding costly conferences for years on the Greek Mediterranean island of Rhodes, where, unsuprisingly, Dubowy has also appeared as “speaker.”[66] Dubowy can also be found on the homepage of the “Research Institute of the Dialogue of Civilizations,”[67] whose events he has attended.[68] It has its headquarters in Berlin and offices in Vienna (headed for a time by Walter Schwimmer, Secretary-General of the Council of Europe from 1999-2004 and a member of the Austrian People’s Party) and – of course – in Moscow. One of the “experts” of the Dialogue of Civilizations is, coincidentally, Austria’s former Federal Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer (Social Democratic Party).

For years Dubowy was engaged by the Austrian Ministry of Defense as an “expert” and author of publications.[69] The Chair for Philosophy of law at the University of Vienna now lists him as a “former employee.”

At the Faculty of Law of this university, he taught for the last time in the summer term of 2020, when he gave an “Introduction to the political thought and political system of Russia,” where he linked up with Markedonov, among others, via the Internet.

Is there actually a quality control that excludes agitation, for example, for the Freedom Party’s Russia policy? If not, why not? And if so, what is its specific nature?

These questions arise also and especially in view of a small excerpt from the list of Dubowy’s friends on Facebook.

There one can find:

  • Schank, Krumpel, Baumann, Kofner, Yakunin;
  • Reinhard Eugen Bösch (MP, representing the Freedom Party, and member of the German-national Viennese academic fraternity [Burschenschaft] Teutonia);
  • Putin’s former (extremely nationalistic) Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky;
  • Russia’s Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, who regularly lays flowers on Stalin’s birthday on his grave near the Kremlin in Moscow;
  • Zyuganov’s deputy Ivan Melnikov; the pro-Putin official Sergei Markov;
  • the “red-brown” author and journalist Alexander Prokhanov;
  • Viacheslav Nikonov (a pro-Putin official who points out at every opportunity that he is the grandson of Stalin’s confidant Viacheslav Molotov;
  • Igor Dodon, strongly pro-Russian President of Moldova (voted out of office in November 2020);
  • Sergei Karaganov (who indeed compared NATO with Hitler’s Germany and alternately threatens “the West” – or what he takes for it – and predicts its downfall);
  • Lukashenka’s long-standing Foreign Minister Vladzimir Makei;
  • Dmitry Lyubinsky, Russia’s Ambassador in Austria with good contacts to Austrian business circles and the Freedom Party; the pro-Soviet officer and politician Viktor Alksnis;
  • and, last but not least, Leonid Slutsky, Duma deputy of Vladimir Zhirinovsky‘s ultra-nationalist “Liberal Democratic Party of Russia” (Slutskiy in 2018 faced massive accusations of having sexually harassed female journalists).

Russian opposition activists, Putin skeptics and critics, or human rights and environmental activists are all but absent in Dubowy’s friends list.

At the end of May 2020, Dubowy moderated a lecture by Alexander Rahr at the “Russian Centre for Science and Culture” in Vienna as part of a series of events known as “Vienna Talks.”

This Centre is run by the Moscow-based federal agency “Rossotrudnichestvo” (“Russian Cooperation”), another institution for the projection of the Kremlin’s soft power, besides the Dialogue of Civilizations; the “Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC); “Valdai” etc. The agency’s homepage reported on this otherwise rather unnoticed event.[70]

The role of the Austrian National Defense Academy in the ISP‘s network

Dubowy and Tschank tell, especially on the sidelines of ISP events, all those who want to hear (or not) about their close cooperation with the Austrian Ministry of Defense. This is apparently a strategy of legitimization which the Ministry, as far as is known, has never opposed. The “logic” behind this is, at least from the subjective point of view of the ISP, quite simple:

“If even the Ministry of National Defense depends on this [the ISP’s] expertise, then it must be serious.”[71]

And this is where the National Defense Academy, the highest training institute of the Austrian Armed Forces in Vienna’s seventh district with about 200 staff members, becomes relevant.

It had already been described by Profil in 2009 as a “center of scandals”[72] and has long been scientifically largely irrelevant, but its Commander Erich Csitkovits (like his unfortunate and affair-hunted predecessor Raimund Schittenhelm, who shortly before his retirement in 2011 was confronted with an affair involving a pornographic film shot in the Academy[73]) still dreams of being elevated to a “Military University” in order to enter the history of the Austrian Armed Forces as its founding Vice-chancellor.

Csitkovits would be the first head of an Austrian university without a properly obtained academic degree: he completed the three-year General Staff Training Course [Generalstabslehrgang] in 1994, which was recognized years later as Studium irregulare at the University of Vienna and rewarded with a master’s degree.[74]

The obsession with academic degrees, which is also expressed here, had been critically reflected from time to time in Austrian media – and subsequently even in a parliamentary interpellation by the Greens in the National Council, –[75] but this has not impressed any of the officials responsible in the Ministry of Defense.

Moreover, Csitkovits’ official biography does not reveal any participation in the peacekeeping and military observer missions of the Austrian Armed Forces abroad,[76] which suggests that he completed his ascent to the rank of a Lieutenant General largely behind desks in different offices.

Subjectively, one can easily understand his motives for staying in secure Austria: in the UN peacekeeping forces in Cyprus or on the Golan Heights (between Israel and Syria)[77] he would have found himself in an unstable environment and would also have been largely cut off from career-promoting intrigues at home in Vienna. And when Csitkovits took over the command of the National Defense Academy, it was one of his first measures to hire an English teacher from the Academy’s Foreign Language Department for himself.

In January 2014, Vladimir Yakunin, then (2005-2015) head of the state-owned Russian Railways, gave a lecture at the National Defense Academy, after which he answered questions from the audience (or at least tried to give the impression that he did). When asked indirectly about his KGB past, he replied that he had “nothing to reproach myself for”; on other occasions he openly admitted to having spent over two decades in Soviet intelligence services. And: “I can say that this sphere shapes character, will, skills and brain well. Which has been very useful in my life.”[78]

In the post-Soviet period, the Soviet patriot Yakunin became an ultra-conservative Russian nationalist; and his penchant for Soviet-era conspiracy theories also suited perfectly to working for Putin. Csitkovits offered forums to Yakunin – and hardly anyone inside or outside the Ministry of Defense took offense. And on the occasion of the discussion “Austria’s Path to State Neutrality. 60 years since the withdrawal of Soviet troops” on 23 October 2015, Yakunin and Csitkovits shared a panel. The venue was the Baden Congress Casino.[79]

The National Defense Academy releases publications together with Yakunin’s Dialogue of Civilizations. What needs to be clarified is the fact that the so-called Partnership for Peace Consortium (PfP C), a NATO initiative, was also involved here.[80] The National Defense Academy cooperated with the Dialogue of Civilizations on at least five events: in November 2017 in Reichenau an der Rax (Austria), in April 2018 in Minsk (Belarus), in November 2018 in Reichenau, in April 2019 in Berlin[81] (Germany) and in November 2019 again in Reichenau.

The Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) was involved at least at the events in November 2018 (“South Caucasus: Leveraging Political Change in a Context of Strategic Volatility”)[82] and February 2019 (“Perceptions on the EU Western Balkans Strategy”)[83]. It was tragicomic when just the RIAC attested the Dialogue of Civilizations to be an “independent think tank.”[84]

In the summer of 2020, the Hamburg-based Spiegel began to take an interest in this matter and contacted, among others, the Press Service of the Austrian Ministry of Defense. There it was told that it had been known that Yakunin was on the sanctions lists of the US and Australia because of his role in the Russian annexation of Crimea and that he was a co-founder of the Dialogue of Civilizations; it was, however, unknown to the Ministry that the Dialogue was criticized for “being part of Russia’s hybrid warfare strategy against the West.”

Furthermore, the press service in all seriousness denied that there had been any “cooperation” between the Ministry of Defense and the “Dialogue” – there had only been a “participation” (!) in joint events within the framework of the PfP C.

Defense Minister Klaudia Tanner (People’s Party) also stuck to this line: she declared in an answer to a parliamentary interpellation by the Neos that there had been “no direct cooperation” between her Ministry and the Dialogue.

And according to Tanner, the Dialogue has a “good reputation,” which is why its representatives have been invited by the PfP C.[85]

Obviously, Yakunin’s people have such a reputation in the Austrian Ministry of Defense, but surely not in the serious and independent expert community. The “Dialogue,” for its part, even denied having anything to do with the Kremlin (!), claiming that it had “no affiliation with any country or government, Russian, French, Austrian or otherwise.”[86]

In other words, both the Ministry of Defense and the Dialogue simply made fun of the journalists’ and the MP’s investigations.

Spiegel’s story was taken up by several media outlets in Austria, in particular the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (Österreichischer Rundfunk, or ORF) and the newspapers Die Presse, Der Standard, Kronen Zeitung, Salzburger Nachrichten, and Vorarlberger Nachrichten. None of them justified the position of the Ministry of Defense.  This Ministry and especially the National Defense Academy could have easily obtained information about Yakunin’s “business” from the Internet.

Russia’s best-known opposition figure, Alexei Navalny, had accused Yakunin as early as 2013 of having built up a billion-dollar business empire thanks to massive corruption. According to Navalny, Yakunin had a “mafia family of the purest kind, and it exists due to its mafia boss, Vladimir Putin, who gives license to steal everything around.”[87] And what is the National Defense Academy still doing years later? It gives events with Yakunin whose face still smiles from the in-house info screen.

The obvious cooperation of the National Defense Academy with Yakunin has caused (further) damage to the already fragile reputation of the Ministry, also and especially in the eyes of active and potential partners in many countries beyond Russia’s western borders, and has once again raised the question to what extent senior officials – and especially Csitkovits – are intellectually able to cope with their jobs.

And Dubowy emphasized vis-à-vis the Presse that he had “at no time been a staff member of the Ministry of Defense” and that he was “not personally acquainted” with Yakunin, although the Presse has a photograph showing the two together.[88]

Dubowy’s contacts with Yakunin undoubtedly go back several years. For example, Yakunin appeared at a lecture series organized by Dubowy at the Faculty of Law at the University of Vienna in the winter term 2012/2013.[89] And the (state-run) Austrian People’s Advocate’s Office (Volksanwaltschaft) explicitly refers to Dubowy as an “employee” of the Defense Ministry and the National Defense Academy.[90]

So was/is he a member of these state institutions or not? How is it possible that this cannot be determined exactly? Does Dubowy perhaps, depending on the “occasion,” pretend to be an employee of the Ministry, the Academy, the University of Vienna, the ISP, etc. – and if yes, for what reason? These are just a few of the countless obscurities that accompany this man’s professional path at every turn.

After all, it is absolutely clear that his close relationship with the Ministry of Defense is translating into specie: According to an answer given by Tanner on 21 October 2020 to a parliamentary interpellation, Dubowy received EUR 27,000 for a “study” on “Russia’s defense plans and effects on Austria,” which counts as one of the “personal and strategic consultancy services” of the Ministry in the first half of 2020.[91]

In late summer 2020, the Greens in the National Council attempted to clarify the role of  Brigadier General Gustav E. Gustenau, Deputy Head of the Directorate for Security Policy of the Ministry of Defense, by means of a parliamentary interpellation concerning the case of Wirecard management board member and rumored informant for the Freedom Party Jan Marsalek, and his alleged connections to the Federal Ministry of Defense.

The interpellation stated that Gustenau had “worked on the cooperation with the Freedom Party-related ISP in his function in the Directorate for Security Policy.” This is exactly what Tanner did not deny in her answer to the interpellation. She also admitted that “representatives of the National Defense Academy” were also involved in the “cooperation” with the ISP.[92]

Dubowy was and is the “hinge” between the ISP and the National Defense Academy.

He demonstrably attended international conferences as a “senior researcher” of the National Defense Academy – how could that be if he had never been an employee of the Ministry of Defense? And the fact that such a post simply does not exist at this academy apparently did not bother any of Dubowy’s “patrons.” Needless to say, this would (also) have been completely impossible without the knowledge and consent of Csitkovits.

The General Staff Training Course, where Austria’s future military top brass is being trained, is traditionally held at the National Defense Academy. In the summer of 2018, some of the Course’s participants had the opportunity to take part in a “summer school organized by Alexander Dubowy” in Moscow.

According to official information, the examination of Russia’s “political culture” and of a “Russian soul” have been the focus of its activities.[93] However, this message disappeared from the homepage of the Ministry of Defense at some point between the end of September and early December 2020. Is this a (further) result of Dubowy’s considerable efforts to “cover his tracks”?

Many of the events listed in the above-mentioned “Performance Review of the Institute for Security Policy 2017-2019” contain the reference that they were carried out in cooperation with the National Defense Academy. This was the case, for example, with a guest lecture by Lukyanov, which he gave in his capacity as RIAC’s head and as Research Director of the nominally “international” discussion club “Valdai,” which is de facto controlled by Putin’s Presidential Executive Office, on 25 March 2019 at the National Defense Academy on the topic “World Order without the West? Russia between the USA, China, and the EU.”

In his appearances in the West, Lukyanov likes to be counted among the “top three experts on Russia’s international relations and Russian foreign and security policy,” although this is clearly not the case. Anyway, Csitkovits welcomed more than 130 guests in the Sala Terrena, the largest event hall in the Academy building.[94] Lukyanov is one of those representatives of the “scientific community” working for the Kremlin, who – often with a cheeky, condescending, and/or threatening undertone – in countless presentations and publications “explain” and “clarify” Putin’s policy to “the West.”

If one has read one of his articles or heard one of his lectures, one knows them all. The added value from the knowledge of more and more of his written and oral statements is practically zero, especially since no critical reflection on the politics of his own country can be expected from him: this is definitely not one of the tasks that the RIAC and “Valdai” have set for themselves or were set for them. And the ISP and Csitkovits‘ National Defense Academy have been “sailing” in this wake for years.


How pro-Kremlin think tanks spread propaganda in the West


Walter Feichtinger, head of a department at the National Defense Academy, has also made his contribution to this state of affairs. He is in Austria well known through numerous media appearances, e.g. on the ORF, where he liked to be addressed as a “military strategist” or “strategy researcher”[95], although he never worked in the relevant departments of the Ministry of Defense.

Feichtinger has published together with Dubowy – for example on Ukraine, which Feichtinger is unlikely to have found on the map of Europe before the Russian military intervention there began in 2014. There one can read embarrassing things like:

“It remains to be feared that the blanket discrediting of Ukraine’s 74 years as a part of the Soviet Union during the occupation will increase the existing social gaps and tensions and have a disastrous effect on the future of Ukraine.”[96]

This is really all wrong, starting with the fact that Ukraine could not belong to the Soviet Union for “74 years” because it was only founded in 1922 and dissolved in 1991.

Feichtinger “edited” about a dozen books (which in practice meant that most of the work had to be done by his subordinates) – and this in most well-known and expensive publishing houses, where one easily pays EUR 10,000 or more for a book. Did he make these payments from his private money box? Almost certainly not.

The financing of these books, which together must have cost no less than EUR 100,000, is still unclear, as the Ministry of Defense must not pay for publications by its staff. It would not be known that Feichtinger’s boss Csitkovits, with whom he was always on particularly good terms, would have taken an interest in this – despite the ultimate responsibility of each head of an agency for compliance with all normative regulations, including in the area of finances. Neither, by the way, would the Internal Audit Department of the Ministry of Defense, the Armed Forces’ Counter-intelligence Service, or the Court of Audit.

How can this be, when strict economy and expediency are the two traditional budgetary principles of the civil service? And how was it possible that, despite the continuing precarious financial situation of the Ministry of Defense, Feichtinger has visited half the world for many years on official missions – i.e. at the taxpayer’s expense – and in doing so, he did not exclude (seen from Central Europe) exotic destinations such as South Chile, Sudan, South Sudan, Afghanistan, and South Korea (among many others)?

Moreover, Feichtinger has demonstrably and in violation of copyright law[97] put his name on publications with which he had absolutely nothing to do in terms of content – in order to extend his “list of publications” as quickly and easily as possible. Thus, he pursued the goal of being appointed professor in an Austrian Military University, which he believed was about to be created. However, Feichtinger, who (many years ago) had not even been admitted to the General Staff Training Course, retired in March 2020 without this coming to pass.

Thus, the stonemason who at some point will make Feichtinger’s tombstone may not have to engrave the title of a professor. But until then, Feichtinger, who is addicted to publicity and attention, will somehow have to kill time. His Center for Strategic Analyses NGO, founded in Vienna in 2008, serves him for this purpose. One of the members of its team is Etienne Berchtold.[98] In his main job, he is one of the three spokespersons of Federal Chancellor Kurz and one of his “key foreign policy advisers.[99] As is often the case with Feichtinger and the National Defense Academy in general, there is uncertainty about its financing.

Russian President Vladimir Putin dancing arm-in-arm with Austria’s Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl at her wedding on 18 August 2018. Screenshot: Youtube/Euronews in English.

It cannot be assumed, that, for example, former Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl – who repeatedly complained in spring 2020 about her impending destitution and about not receiving any money from the state[100] – would write papers for Feichtinger completely free of charge.[101] And Kneissl, who was nominated by the Freedom Party for the Foreign Ministry in December 2017 and at whose wedding in August 2018 Putin himself danced, is also hardly working for free for the propaganda channel RT (formerly Russia Today), for which she wrote, among other things, a text in which she vehemently advocated the natural gas pipeline project Nord Stream II, initiated by Putin[102] – although (or because?) it would increase the EU’s dependence on the Kremlin’s whims as well as Putin’s revenues, which he needs to finance his aforementioned wars.

Dubowy is acquainted with Johann Frank, who was head of the Directorate for Security Policy of the Ministry of Defense until early 2020. Dubowy has published articles in many of the publications for which Frank was responsible.

In April 2020, Frank succeeded Feichtinger as head of the Department for Peacekeeping and Conflict Management at the National Defense Academy. This appointment amazed many observers. Why did Frank, who had already made it to Major General in the Directorate for Security Policy, suddenly turned up at the post of a department head, usually held by a (lower-ranking) Brigadier like Feichtinger was?

Frank’s transfer to the National Defense Academy was generally considered as a “demotion.” The Ministry of Defense tried to keep silent about the causes (which, of course, does not change the fact that – more or less plausible – rumors are still leaking out). But one thing is clear: Csitkovits must have given his consent to Frank’s transfer to the Academy.

Colluding with Valdai

The same Csitkovits has let himself and the Academy he commands via the ISP get involved in activities of “Valdai,” a propaganda stage of the Kremlin, which – according to Shekhovtsov – also and especially functions as a meeting place between Putin and right-wing radical politicians.[103] Incidentally, not only Lukyanov but also Rahr is connected with “Valdai”; and Kofner has reported from there for Compact.[104] Thus, again some “circles” are closed.

On 21 March 2019, the “VI European Conference of the Valdai Club” on the subject “All together or every man for himself? Russia and the EU’s Perspectives on Future Multilateral Diplomacy” should have taken place in cooperation with the ISP on the premises of the National Defense Academy. More than 100 “leading experts” from ten European countries were invited. The first opening speaker was – guess who! – Tschank, the second Csitkovits, and the third Andrei Bystritsky from “Valdai.”

The opening panel (“Does multilateral diplomacy have a future? Views of Russia and the EU”) should have been moderated by Lukyanov; among the discussants were, among others, the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko and the above-mentioned Kosachev in his capacity as Chairman of the Foreign Policy Committee of the Federation Council, i.e. the Upper House of the Russian Parliament.

The panel “Problems of European security after arms control. A threat to peace and how to counter it” should have been taken up by Stadler and Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s permanent representative to the international organizations in Vienna, among others. And one of the two planned closing words would have been spoken by Erwin Schmidl, head of the Department for Strategy and Security Policy at the National Defense Academy (who contributed an article to a highly controversial so-called “historian report” of the Freedom Party[105], written and edited under the guidance of Party officials; but the report was panned by the vast majority of Austrian historians).

However, the “Valdai-balloon” burst before it had even risen – because on the evening of 17 May 2019 Ibizagate started to smell, and the very next day the coalition government collapsed. Numerous and not only Austrian media immediately – and not for the first time – drew their attention to the “Russia policy” of the Freedom Party, which had signed a “Cooperation Agreement” in December 2016 with Putin’s party United Russia (to which e.g. Kosachev and Markov belong).

Csitkovits suddenly denied “Valdai” access to the National Defense Academy, and the homepage of the ISP went offline for some time. The “Valdai” conference was moved to the Grand Hotel Vienna, although most of the Austrian participants were missing from the last version of the agenda.

Ambassador Lyubinsky was not amused. On Facebook, he, however, displayed defiance: From his point of view, it has been not possible to scupper the entire event. And: “The domestic political crisis in Vienna is in full swing. But none of this has anything to do with Russia.”[106]


Moscow has complex system to run agents of influence abroad, Khmelnytskyi says


The Russian state television channel “Rossiya 24” reported on Csitkovits’ sudden withdrawal from the “Valdai” conference not without an indignant undertone about the behavior of the “Austrian partners.”[107] The performance of the National Defense Academy was also met with interest and/or incomprehension on English language websites.[108]

This inevitably resulted in a huge embarrassment not only, but also and especially for Csitkovits personally: if he had not invited “Valdai,” mediated by the ISP, to his Academy, this scandal would not have happened.

However, no lessons were learned. The cooperation of the National Defense Academy with the ISP continued at full speed even after Ibizagate – as can be seen in the “Performance Review of the Institute for Security Policy 2017-2019.”

Worth mentioning are also events which were held in cooperation between the National Defense Academy, the ISP, and a certain “European Institute for Terrorism and Conflict Prevention,” or EICTP, e.g. a lecture by Bruce Hoffmann on 25 September 2019: the venue was the National Defense Academy, with Dubowy as moderator.[109]

The EICTP was founded by Gustenau and the former (2000-2003) Minister of Defense Herbert Scheibner (Freedom Party, then Alliance for the Future of Austria [Bündnis Zukunft Österreich, or BZÖ]). Of course, all these things are “only” further stages in the history of the National Defense Academy, which can be read as a chronique scandaleuse.

What all these stages have in common is that no disciplinary or other consequences were ever drawn with regard to the decision-makers.

In 2014 Csitkovits, who is generally considered to be completely “resistant to advice,” ordered the dismissal of a member of his Academy’s staff – a political scientist who had been responsible for the post-Soviet area. Three judicial instances declared this dismissal to be unlawful and annulled it in the absence of any reasons.

The Austrian Supreme Court in its final ruling in 2015 identified violations of the law for which Csitkovits was personally responsible. But he simply did not allow the staff member concerned, who had done nothing wrong, to return to the Academy. But what in the armies of many other democratic countries would lead to a dishonorable dismissal did not bother anyone in Austria: Csitkovits is still “uncontested” in office. And therefore he has been able to leave the employee in question sitting at home for over six years, where he is not allowed to do anything for his salary (which the Ministry has to pay him).

This means that Csitkovits simply does not implement court decisions – and gets away with this. At the same time, he has the ISP with its clear political orientation “analyzing” the post-Soviet space and especially Russia for enormous sums – at a time when the Ministry of Defense is on the verge of bankruptcy!

Csitkovits in his capacity as one of the most senior officers of the Austrian Army, whose word carries weight, could and should have refused to finance the ISP by the Ministry as early as 2017 – among other things, with the argument that the corresponding expertise has long been available at the National Defense Academy, and at no additional costs. However, Csitkovits decided not to do so and promoted Dubowy’s career instead.

Basically, it was always completely incomprehensible why Csitkovits had a crush on the Freedom Party-related ISP in general (and on Dubowy in particular), as he had been Chief of Staff in the office of the Social Democratic Defense Minister Norbert Darabos since 2004, who had appointed him Commander of the National Defense Academy in 2011. From the specific point of view of Csitkovits, Dubowy and Gustenau are anything but discredited, as he allowed both of them to lecture at the current General Staff Training Course.

Dubowy has his own office at the Academy, whose door sign calls him a “project staff member” and further claims that he comes from the University of Vienna (as of September 2020), although – as mentioned above – he is no longer listed as its staff member (which can easily be checked with the search engine on the University’s homepage).

Moreover, it is unclear why Csitkovits protects a certain employee at his Academy who was heard to praise the Austrofascist corporative state [Ständestaat] 1934-1938 and who raged against what he called “prohibiting free thoughts about the Holocaust” (in German: “Denkverbote beim Holocaust”; this terminology is otherwise only found among the so-called “revisionists”). This employee is not afraid that his openly displayed antisemitism could harm him at the Academy. And indeed, this was not the case – neither under Schittenhelm nor under Csitkovits, which speaks volumes.

Wirecard and some aspects of the activities of the Austrian-Russian Friendship Society

On 22 June 2020, the public prosecutor’s office in Munich (Germany) applied for an arrest warrant against Markus Braun, Wirecard’s CEO and an Austrian citizen. He then turned himself in but was released the next day on bail of EUR 5 million. He is suspected of falsifying balance sheets and market manipulation.

Wirecard filed for insolvency on 25 June 2020. The company conceded that an asset of EUR 1.9 billion (!) on trust accounts in Asia in all probability did not even exist. This was also sensitive because Braun had been a member of an economic policy think tank of Chancellor Kurz, headed by management consultant Antonella Mei-Pochtler.

From June 2020 onwards, Wirecard moved massively into the focus of public interest in Austria and Germany.

Its former management board member Jan Marsalek, an Austrian citizen, is said to have been an informant for the Freedom Party: according to a report in the Vienna-based daily newspaper Die Presse, he passed on confidential information from the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution and Counter-Terrorism and the Ministry of the Interior to the Party via a certain “Florian S.” Die Presse referred to chats between “S.” and Gudenus, in which business interests with “references” to Russia were discussed.

The Freedom Party firmly rejected all accusations made against it.[110] What else could it have done?

In any case, “Florian S.” is Florian Stermann, close to the People’s Party, Secretary-General of the Austrian-Russian Friendship Society as well as the founder and managing director of EMB Expert Management Beratung GmbH in Vienna, who ran a company called “Russia GmbH” with People’s Party representative Ernst Strasser, Austria’s Minister of the Interior between 2000 and 2004 and President of the Austrian-Russian Friendship Society from 2003 to 2011.[111]

Wirecard has donated between EUR 10,000 and 20,000 to this Society every year since 2011. Since the same year, Marsalek (who for years had shown an “affinity to Russia”[112]) and ISP’s cashier Markus Braun have been “Senators” of this society, which also and especially – although, of course, not only for these two – serves to “network” between Vienna and Moscow.[113] Ambassador Lyubinsky, Honorary President of the Society by virtue of this office, had a spokesman say that Marsalek’s behavior had “nothing to do” with its activities.[114]

On 19 June 2020 Marsalek went by private jet from Austria via the Estonian capital Tallinn to the Belarusian capital Minsk. The Hamburg-based weekly Spiegel (Mirror) judged that it was becoming increasingly probable that Marsalek had “cooperated with Russian secret services or even worked for them.”[115] The Financial Times took the same line: Marsalek “has led multiple lives, with complicated and overlapping commercial and political interests. Sometimes they seemed to fit neatly with the work of Russia’s intelligence agencies.”[116]

On 19 July 2020, the German Handelsblatt reported that Marsalek had been transferred from Belarus to Russia by the Russian Military Intelligence Service, or GRU.[117] The German weekly Focus drew a similar interim conclusion: “The Vienna – Moscow axis is intact. Marsalek has evidently used it often.” And according to the magazine, the Austrian-Russian Friendship Society had been at the center of attention.[118]

By September 2020, this society had more than 4,000 members (500 of whom were entitled to vote), both individuals and companies (including Austria’s largest). In 2016, 16 companies, including Wirecard, Magna, Novomatic, Strabag, and Signa, each paid at least EUR 10,000 per year.

Companies are therefore the main financiers of the Society. Dubowy and his mentor Gustenau, who had been close to the Freedom Party for decades, were also permanent guests in this Society. Focus called the latter Marsalek’s “connector” with the Austrian Ministry of Defense.[119]

In April 2017, a dinner of more than 20 people was held in a noble Munich-based restaurant, attended by former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, former Bavarian Prime Minister Edmund Stoiber, former Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel as well as Marsalek and Gustenau, among others.

Gustenau was informed of Marsalek’s plans to establish a 15,000-strong mercenary force for Libya (allegedly to seal off its southern border).[120] The Austrian Ministry of Defense admitted to having concluded a memorandum of intent [Absichtserklärung] on this project.[121] However, insiders in Austrian security policy find it difficult to imagine what role – of whatever kind – this Ministry could have played in an adventure in war-torn Libya.

But Gustenau was undoubtedly aware from the beginning that “the Russians” were “on board.” Thus, he wrote e-mails to his contact, GRU officer Andrei Cheprygin.

Focus was surprised about Gustenau: “A high-ranking security expert of an EU state [i.e. Austria] is not only involved in an obscure foreign policy project, but during its preparation phase is in direct contact with a Russian secret service agent.”[122]

The question naturally arises what the Austrian Military Counter-intelligence Service [Abwehramt] has done in this matter, especially since Gustenau also carried out many other “Russia-relevant” activities.

Afterward, he participated in events of the Dialogue of Civilizations[123] and appeared on its YouTube channel, called “DOC TV.”[124] He was also involved in promoting Nord Stream II, as demonstrated, for example, during a panel discussion organized by the Austrian-Russian Friendship Society “The Relations between the EU and Russia. Energy – Security – Economy” on 24 October 2017 in Vienna, where Gustenau, Rainer Seele, Director General of Austria’s oil and gas company OMV, and Rahr, moderated by Dubowy, left no doubt about their common – i.e. pro-Russian – energy policy preferences.[125]

But finally, in 2020, Gustenau had to leave the Directorate for Security Policy. Of all places, he went to Csitkovits’ National Defense Academy, where he is working on a “research project” until the end of 2020. One can only be very curious about the results, which hopefully will be published.

At the regular General Assembly of the Austrian-Russian Friendship Society on 15 September 2020, a “coup” occurred: Chairman Richard Schenz and his deputy Christoph Matznetter (both Vice-Presidents of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber; Matznetter is also a member of the National Council representing the Social Democratic Party) were not re-elected. Schenz then explained that “in view of the Wirecard scandal,” Stermann had been advised not to run for office again.

However, everything turned out quite differently than expected. Stermann and Gudenus activated many members of the Society (often belonging to the Freedom Party or associated with it). Thus, Stermann’s friend Maximilian Christoph Habsburg-Lothringen became the Society’s new Chairman. He claimed that he did not belong to any party and was “apolitical” altogether. He himself had been active in Russia for 17 years; within the framework of his “family office,” he assisted Russians in Austria and Austrians in Russia. Interesting was his open confession “of not being a democrat.”[126]

The Presidium of the Friendship Society has been reduced in size and now consists only of Habsburg-Lothringen, Secretary-General Markus Stender (former lawyer of Strasser), and Finance Officer Wolfgang Reithoffer. As of the beginning of December 2020, the Society’s homepage did not name any members of the board at all and only stated succinctly that it consists of “numerous high-ranking personalities.”[127] Does the Society have something to hide?

Summary and conclusions

Hans Rauscher, one of Austria’s best-known journalists, called The Dialogue of Civilizations a “dizzy Russian disinformation agency,” with which the Austrian Armed Forces held joint meetings. “Freedom Party members are involved – this must be cleared up. But why is no one surprised?”[128]

In fact, the Dialogue is an instrument of Russian “soft power” for spreading and popularising the Kremlin’s political positions in the West. The Austrian Ministry of Defense claimed that it had no idea about this? Then it was obviously being advised by the wrong people inside and outside its walls. So, of course, the ISP and Dubowy could never be expected to raise an alarm, since they are part of the problem and not of the solution.

It is much more difficult – or even impossible – to explain why structural units of the Ministry itself, such as the Counter-intelligence Service and the Military Intelligence Service [Heeres-Nachrichtenamt], did not warn to be careful or, if they did, why such internal warnings about the ISP, the Dialogue and/or Yakunin were not effective. A definitive clarification of the exact role of the National Defense Academy remains to be done.

In principle, however, there can be no doubt that the Dialogue has penetrated the Ministry of Defense precisely through the Academy (and the ISP). The Commander of the National Defense Academy, Csitkovits, bears full personal responsibility for this.

The ISP claims to offer “evidence-based policy advice by means of scientific analysis,”[129] and Dubowy denied any pro-Russian bias.[130] The practice, however, makes a mockery of this. The ISP engages in lobbying and propaganda, to a significant degree at the taxpayer’s expense – and not for Austrian interests.

And one must not let Tschank (and others) get away with the assertion that the ISP is “non-partisan”: it is not de jure, but de facto a Freedom Party body, which, however, the Ministry of Defense gives a (highly questionable) “legitimacy” to through payments and “cooperation.”

And between the ISP, Dubowy and the Freedom Party on the one hand and Putin’s press service on the other, no piece of paper fits in. And this fact, in turn, puts a big question mark over the research on social sciences in general and on security policy in particular in the Austrian Ministry of Defense. This is especially troubling, as the latter exerts significant influence on the elaboration of basic documents of Austrian security policy.

Parliamentary inquiries, the “bad press” of the ISP, countless questionable activities and transactions (not only of financial nature) of the ISP as well as of its initiators, employees, and supporters and its political orientation did not result in the National Defense Academy or the entire Ministry of Defense breaking with this “institute” for several years. Somebody with excellent connections in the Ministry did not want to end the “cooperation” with this pseudo-think tank at any cost.

And “cost” had to be understood literally. It was only at the end of June 2020 that Defense Minister Tanner announced that she would not extend the contract for financing the ISP, which expired at the end of 2020. She also wanted to set up an evaluation commission to examine why the Ministry provides funding for NGOs like the ISP, but at the same time constantly complains about a lack of funds for itself.[131]

It is not unlawful that the Ministry of Defense, together with a gambling company, is financing the politically clearly aligned ISP. However, the impression is devastating and unworthy of an Austrian Federal Ministry – and not only against the background of the “casino affair” surrounding the appointment of Peter Sidlo as Director of Finance and Compliance at Casinos Austria, as which he only served for a few months in 2019 and whose background is to this day covered by the media, politics, and justice.


  1. Gernot Bauer, Die Ibiza-Affäre: Spuren zu “Verein.” Profil, 19 May 2019, (9 December 2020).
  2. Gernot Bauer etc., Geld, Drogen und ein Video. Profil, no. 24, 2020, pp. 34-37, here p. 37.
  3. Novomatic finanziert Institut von FPÖ-Mandatar Tschank. ORF, 16 August 2019, (9 December 2020).
  4. Gernot Bauer etc., Geld, Drogen und ein Video. Profil, no. 24, 2020, pp. 34-37, here p. 35.
  5. Quoted after: Novomatic sponsert Institut von FPÖ-Mandatar Tschank. Profil, 16 August 2019, (9 December 2020).
  6. Quoted after: Novomatic finanziert Institut von FPÖ-Mandatar Tschank. ORF, 16 August 2019, 9 December 2020).
  7. Quoted after: Ibid.
  8. Quoted after: Hedi Schneid, Novomatic pausiert beim Kaufrausch. Die Presse, 6 February 2019, (9 December 2020).
  9. Quoted after: Novomatic finanziert Institut von FPÖ-Mandatar Tschank. ORF, 16 August 2019, (9 December 2020).
  10. L. Matzinger, Wofür bekommt das FPÖ-nahe ISP so viel Geld, Herr Bauer? Falter, 21 November 2018, (9 December 2020).
  11. Anton Shekhovtsov, Russia and the Western Far Right. Tango Noir. London and New York, 2018, p. 169.
  12. Quoted after: FPÖ macht Kadyrow den Hof. Kurier, 8 February 2012, (9 December 2020).
  13. Quoted after: Aufregung um FPÖ-Besuch bei Kadyrow. Der Standard, 8 February 2012, (9 December 2020).
  14. Гелия Певзнер, Эксперт: Крайне правые Австрии видят в Путине «антиглобалиста». [interview with Anton Shekhovtsov]. Rfi na russkom, 30 May 2019, (9 December 2020).
  15. This term according to: Anne Peters, Das Völkerrecht der Gebietsreferenden. Das Beispiel der Ukraine 1991-2014. Osteuropa, no. 5-6, 2014, pp. 101-133, here p. 133.
  16. Peter Temel, Hübners antisemitische Anspielungen im O-Ton. Kurier, 26 july ‎2017, (9 December 2019).
  17. Spuren von Kokain bei Gudenus-Hausdurchsuchung gefunden. Die Presse, 27 November 2019, (9 December 2020); Dominik Schreiber and Kid Möchel, Bilder zeigen Gudenus bei mutmaßlichem Drogenkonsum: War er erpressbar? Kurier, 16 June 2020, (9 December 2020).
  18. Doskozil kontert Gudenus-Aussagen: “Größter Blödsinn.” ORF, 24 June 2020, (9 December 2020).
  19. Quoted after: Idee für FPÖ-Verein ISP kam laut Gudenus von Doskozil. Puls 24, 20 June 2020, (9 December 2020).
  20. Quoted after: Ibid.
  21. Quoted after: Fabian Schmid, Doskozils Büro räumt fehlerhafte Angaben zu Geld für blauen Verein ein. Der Standard, 21 June 2020, (9 December 2020).
  22. Renate Graber, Fabian Schmid and Andreas Schnauder, Ermittler decken Großspenden an FPÖ-Vereine auf. Der Standard, 19 February 2020, (9 December 2020).
  23. Gernot Bauer etc., Geld, Drogen und ein Video. Profil, no. 24, 2020, pp. 34-37, here p. 35.
  24. “Institut” für Sicherheitspolitik (2311/AB). Republik Österreich, Parlament, (9 December 2019).
  25. ENTSCHLIESSUNGSANTRAG der Abgeordneten Mag. Hammer, Dr. Moser [,] Kolleginnen und Kollegen. 253/UEA XXVI. GP – Entschließungsantrag [scanned original], (9 December 2020).
  26. Mag. Thomas Starlinger – Bundesminister für Landesverteidigung, 13. August 2019, S91145/2-PMVD/2019 (1). (9 December 2020).
  27. [Untitled document]. II-321 der Beilagen XXVI. GP – Sonstige Anlage – Beilage, (9 December 2020).
  28. Sebastian Fellner, Renate Graber and Fabian Schmid, Gefördertes blaues Institut war für Obmann lukrative Geldquelle. Der Standard, 10 March 2020, (9 December 2020).
  29. Anfrage der Abgeordneten Douglas Hoyos-Trauttmansdorff, Dr. Stephanie Krisper, Kolleginnen und Kollegen an die Bundesministerin für Justiz betreffend [:] Gefördertes blaues Institut als lukrative Geldquelle für Obmann Tschank. 1267/J, vom 12.03.2020 (XXVII. GP), (9 December 2020).
  30. [Letter of the Federal Minister of Justice to the Speaker of the National Council]. 1276/AB, vom 12.05.2020 zu 1267/J (XXVII. GP), (9 December 2020).
  31. Quoted after: Sandra Schieder, Flossen Gelder über Vereine an Politiker? Kronen Zeitung, 11 June 2020, pp. 2-3, here p. 3.
  32. Christina Hiptmayr and Stefan Melichar, Blaue Eingreiftruppe. Profil, no. 27, 2020, p. 23.
  33. Christina Hiptmayr, Stefan Melichar and Jakob Winter, “Bamm Bamm Bamm.” Profil, no. 35, 2020, pp. 12-17, here p. 19.
  34. Auch Strache war an Tschank-Firma beteiligt. ORF, 26 June 2020, (9 December 2020).
  35. Gernot Bauer etc., Geld, Drogen und ein Video. Profil, no. 24, 2020, pp. 34-37, here p. 37.
  36. Sebastian Fellner, Renate Graber and Fabian Schmid, Gefördertes blaues Institut war für Obmann lukrative Geldquelle. Der Standard, 10 March 2020, (9 December 2020); Fabian Schmid, Blaues “Institut” mit Novomatic-Geld und russischem Identitären. Der Standard, 18 August 2019, (9 December 2020).
  37. 1. Mitteleuropäische Sicherheitskonferenz in Wien. Bundesheer, 15 May 2018, (9 December 2020).
  38. Mitteleuropäische Sicherheitskonferenz. St.Georgs-Orden, [undated], (9 December 2020).
  39. Quoted after: Fabian Schmid, Blaues “Institut” mit Novomatic-Geld und russischem Identitären. Der Standard, 18 August 2019, (9 December 2020); see also: Clemens Neuhold, Zu blaues Blut: Die FPÖ und der St. Georgs-Orden. Profil, 4 September 2019, (9 December 2020).
  40. Sebastian Fellner and Fabian Schmid, Blauer Workshop mit Zeit zum Skifahren. Der Standard, 10 March 2020, p. 10.
  41. Präsentation des Politthrillers “2054 – Putin dekodiert” mit Alexander Rahr. Österreichisch-Russische Freundschaftsgesellschaft, 26 February 2019, (9 December 2020).
  42. Quoted after: Jörg Lau, Wie soll Deutschland mit Russland umgehen? Zeit Online, 14 March 2013, (9 December 2020).
  43. Experten. ISP, (17 June 2020).
  44. Sergey Markedonov and Alexander Dubowy, Neutrality for the Black Sea Region Countries: Abstraction, Unattainable Goal or Effective Model? RIAC, 2 March 2020, (9 December 2020).
  45. See: Jurij Kofner, Economic outlook for the Eurasian Economic Union until 2024. ISP, 30 December 2019, (16 June 2020); Jurij Kofner: Did the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) create a common market for goods, services, capital and labor within the Union? ISP, 30 October 2019, (16 June 2020). – Both texts were no longer accessible as of 6 December 2020.
  46. Fabian Schmid and Markus Sulzbacher, Identitäre Grüße aus Moskau: Rechtsextreme Allianz mit dem Osten. Der Standard, 16 June 2016, (9 December 2020).
  47. See: Fabian Schmid, Blaues “Institut” mit Novomatic-Geld und russischem Identitären. Der Standard, 18 August 2019, (9 December 2020). – Here Kofner is addressed as “Russian Identitarian,” but he is not mentioned by name.
  48. See: Thomas Korn and Andreas Umland, Jürgen Elsässer, Kremlpropagandist. Zeit Online, 19 July 2014, (9 December 2020).
  49. Yuri Kofner, Facebook, 14 October 2016, (9 December 2020).
  50. Yuri Kofner, Facebook, 23 November 2014, (9 December 2020).
  51. Yuri Kofner, Facebook, 14 October 2014, (9 December 2020).
  52. Yuri Kofner, Facebook, 19 August 2017, (16 June 2020). – as of 6 December 2020 this photo was removed.
  53. Yuri Kofner, Facebook, 28 May 2017, (9 December 2020).
  54. Yuri Kofner, Facebook, 27 December 2014, (30 April 2019).
  55. Anton Shekhovtsov, Facebook, 26 June 2020, (9 December 2020).
  56. Юрий Кофнер, Русская весна как движение ненасильственного освобождения., 19 May 2014, (9 December 2020).
  57. Leistungsübersicht des Instituts für Sicherheitspolitik 2017-2019, (9 December 2020).
  58. Nationalrat, XXVI.GP, Stenographisches Protokoll, 15. Sitzung, 21 March 2018 / page 93, (9 December 2020).
  59. Dubowy on Twitter, 8 April 2020, (9 December 2020).
  60. Vgl. Kommuniqué des Untersuchungsausschusses betreffend mutmaßliche Käuflichkeit der türkis-blauen Bundesregierung (Ibiza-Untersuchungsausschuss) (1/US XXVII.GP). Veröffentlichung des wörtlichen Protokolls über die öffentliche Befragung der Auskunftsperson Dr. Markus Tschank in der 6. Sitzung vom 10. Juni 2020, (9 December 2020).
  61. Alexander Dubowy, Der Fall Skripal. Schlaglichter, 18 March 2018, (9 December 2020).
  62. Manuela Honsig-Erlenburg, Beziehungskrise EU-Russland: “Sonderweg Wiens nicht zu erwarten” [interview with Dubowy]. Der Standard, 5 June 2018, (9 December 2020).
  63. Alexander Dubowy, Verfassungsreform in Russland. Schlaglichter, 22 January 2020, (9 December 2020).
  64. Gerhard Lechner, “Putin will kein russischer Mugabe werden” [interview with Dubowy]. Wiener Zeitung, 9 February 2020, (9 December 2020).
  65. Dubowy on Twitter, 10 March 2020, (9 December 2020).
  66. XV Anniversary Rhodes Forum. DOC, 2017, (9 December 2020).
  67. Alexander Dubowy. DOC Research Institute, (9 December 2020).
  68. Cf. for example: Rhodes Forum 2015. The World Beyond Global Disorder. Scientific Program. (9 December 2020), p. 18.
  69. See: Alexander Dubowy, Die Beziehungen Russlands zur EU 2020. Johann Frank and Leyla Daskin (eds.), Sicher. Und morgen? Sicherheitspolitische Jahresvorschau 2020. Direktion für Sicherheitspolitik. Amtliche Publikation der Republik Österreich, Bundesministerium für Landesverteidigung. Wien 2019, pp. 73-78.
  70. «Венские беседы» в РЦНК в Австрии: политолог Александр Рар рассказал о том, как изменится Европа после пандемии. Rossotrudnichestvo, 27 May 2020, (9 December 2020).
  71. Patrick Krammer, Auf einer Veranstaltung des “Instituts für Sicherheitspolitik.”, 16 December 2019, (9 December 2020).
  72. Martina Lettner, Eine Frage der Ehre. Profil, no. 34, 2009, pp. 20-21.
  73. Heeres-Mitarbeiter wegen Orgie in Kaserne gefeuert. Kronen Zeitung, 1 April 2011, (9 December 2020).
  74. Conrad Seidl, Seniorenstudium im Heer. Der Standard, 20 January 2005, (9 December 2020).
  75. Anfrage der Abgeordneten Harald Walser, Freundinnen und Freunde an den/die Bundesminister für Landesverteidigung und Sport betreffend Missstände an der Landesverteidigungsakademie (LVAk). Eingelangt am 02.04.2012, (9 December 2020).
  76. Verteidigungsminister Darabos bestellt Spitzenfunktionen im Bundesheer. Bundesheer, 21 June 2011, (9 December 2020).
  77. The Austrian soldiers withdrew from there in 2013.
  78. Надежда Коновалова, Разведчик, дипломат, успешный управленец и бизнесмен. Sankt-Peterburgskie Vedomosti, 5 July 2020, (9 December 2020).
  79. Einladungen. 60 Jahre Abzug der sowjetischen Truppen aus Österreich, (9 December 2020).
  80. See, for example: Frederic Labarre and George Niculescu (Eds.), Concrete Steps to Break the Deadlocks in the South Caucasus. Vienna 2020, (20 July 2020).
  81. Cf. 19th workshop of the “Partnership for Peace Consortium” Study G390roup: “Regional Stability in the South Caucasus.” Österreichische Militärische Zeitschrift, 14 April 2019, (9 December 2020).
  82. RIAC at South Caucasus Security Seminar in Reichenau (Austria). RIAC, 13 November 2018, (9 December 2020).
  83. European Union Strategy in the Western Balkans Discussed in Vienna. RIAC, 19.02.2019, (9 December 2020).
  84. RIAC at South Caucasus Security Seminar in Reichenau (Austria). RIAC, 13 November 2018, (9 December 2020).
  85. Anfragebeantwortung durch die Bundesministerin für Landesverteidigung Mag. Klaudia Tanner zu der schriftlichen Anfrage (3090/J) der Abgeordneten Douglas Hoyos-Trauttmansdorff, Kolleginnen und Kollegen an die Bundesministerin für Landesverteidigung betreffend das DOC und das BMLV. 3097/AB vom 14.10.2020 zu 3090/J (XXVII. GP), (9 December 2020).
  86. Quotations from: Maik Baumgärtner, Kremlnaher Thinktank mit besten Verbindungen. Der Spiegel, 29 July 2020, (9 December 2020).
  87. Quoted after: Navalny Says Yakunin Owns Business Empire. The Moscow Times, 16 July 2013, (9 December 2020).
  88. Iris Bonavida and Jutta Sommerbauer, Arbeitete das Verteidigungsministerium mit Kreml-Freunden zusammen? Die Presse, 29 July 2020, (9 December 2020).
  89. Europa und Russland. Perspektiven einer Partnerschaft. Ringvorlesung WS 2012/13, (9 December 2020).
  90. Tagung “Klare Worte mit Sicherheit” des BMLVS und der Volksanwaltschaft zu Sicherheitspolitik in Österreich und der EU. Volksanwaltschaft, 25 April 2016, (9 December 2020).
  91. Mag. Klaudia Tanner Bundesministerin für Landesverteidigung. 3159/AB vom 21.10.2020 zu 3157/J (XXVII. GP), page 6, (9 December 2020).
  92. Anfrage des Abgeordneten David Stögmüller, Freundinnen und Freunde an die Bundesministerin für Landesverteidigung betreffend Causa Jan Marsalek und die mutmaßlichen Verbindungen in das Bundesministerium für Landesverteidigung (BMLV). 14 September 2020, (9 December 2020).
  93. Teilnehmer des 21. Generalstabslehrganges auf Sommerhochschule in Moskau. Bundesministerium für Landesverteidigung, 24 September 2018, (15 September 2020).
  94. Alexander DUBOWY, Vortragsveranstaltung “Weltordnung ohne den Westen? Russland zwischen den USA, China und der EU” mit Fedor Lukyanov. ISP, 27 March 2020, (9 December 2020).
  95. Den Krieg der Zukunft verstehen [radio interview with Feichtinger], 8 July 2020, (9 December 2020).
  96. Walter Feichtinger, Rastislav Bachora and Alexander Dubowy, Ukraine – Lösung oder Einfrieren des Konflikts. IFK Monitor, June 2015, p. 4.
  97. Cf. (among other evidence) a finding of the Austrian People’s Advocate’s Office, Bericht der Volksanwaltschaft an den Nationalrat und an den Bundesrat 2009. Wien 2010. Volksanwaltschaft, (9 December 2020), p. 277.
  98. Center for Strategic Analysis, (9 December 2020).
  99. Oliver Pink, Der kleine Kreis im Kanzleramt. Die Presse, 13 September 2020, pp. 4-5, here p. 5.
  100. See, for example: Coronavirus. Ex-Außenministerin Kneissl bei Härtefallfonds abgeblitzt. Kleine Zeitung, 1 April 2020, (9 December 2020).
  101. Karin Kneissl, Pandemie als Weckruf für Neuausrichtung von Lieferketten. Center für Strategische Analysen, Auf den Punkt, no 4, 2020, (9 December 2020).
  102. Karin Kneissl, Nord Stream 2: Geopolitics, economics or emotions? RT, 25 May 2020, (9 December 2020).
  103. Anton Shekhovtsov, Russia and the Western Far Right. Tango Noir. London and New York, 2018, pp. 91-92.
  104. Patrick Gensing and Silvia Stöber, Moskautreue Rechte., 29 April 2016, (9 December 2020).
  105. Freiheitliches Bildungsinstitut (ed.): Bericht der Historikerkommission. Analysen und Materialien zur Geschichte des Dritten Lagers und der FPÖ. Wien 2019.
  106. Quoted after: FPÖ-Ministerien: Keine Teilnahme an russischer Konferenz in Wien. ORF, 21 May 2019, (9 December 2020).
  107. Австрия отказалась от участия в конференции клуба “Валдай” – Россия 24. YouTube, 20 Mai 2019, (9 December 2020).
  108. Sam Jones and Valerie Hopkins, How Russia is making Austria ground zero in the battle for Europe. Ozy, 29 May 2019, (9 Dezember 2020).
  109. Alexander Dubowy: Vortragsveranstaltung “Terrorism: A Continuing Threat – Recent Developments and Trends” mit Bruce Hoffman. ISP, 26.09.2020, (9 December 2020).
  110. Anna Thalhammer, Flüchtiger Wirecard-Manager war geheimer FPÖ-Informant. Die Presse, 9 July 2020, (9 December 2020).
  111. In 2014 Strasser was put in prison for corruption in his capacity as (since 2009) member of the European Parliament, but this had nothing to do with Russia.
  112. Tim Bartz etc., Auf der Jagd nach Dr. No. Der Spiegel, no. 30, 2020, pp. 9-17, here p. 14.
  113. Anna Thalhammer, Marsalek spendete an österreichisch-russischen Verein. Die Presse, 14 July 2020, (9 December 2020).
  114. Quoted after: Wirecard: Kollateralschaden für Österreichs Russland-Freunde. Der Standard, 15 July 2020, (9 December 2020).
  115. Christo Grozev etc., Wirecard-Manager offenbar nach Weißrussland geflüchtet. Der Spiegel, 18 July 2020, (9 December 2020).
  116. Sam Jones, Paul Murphy and Helen Warrell, From payments to armaments: the double life of Wirecard’s Jan Marsalek. Financial Times, 10 July 2020, (9 December 2020).
  117. Andreas Kröner, Ex-Wirecard-Vorstand Marsalek offenbar in Russland untergetaucht. Handelsblatt, 19 July 2020, (9 December 2020).
  118. Christoph Elflein, Jan-Philipp Hein and Josef Hufelschulte, Das geheime Netzwerk des Jan M. Focus, no. 33, 2020, pp. 28-32, here p. 32.
  119. Ibid, p. 31.
  120. Fabian Schmid, Wie Wirecard-Manager Marsalek mit Behördengeld eine Miliz aufbauen wollte. Der Standard, 19 August 2020, (9 December 2020).
  121. Stefan Melichar and Michael Nikbakhsh, Geld, Agenten, Politik. Profil, no. 30, 2020, pp. 26-30, here p. 29.
  122. Jan-Philipp Hein, Die Kreml-Connection im Fall Wirecard. Focus, no. 37, 2020, pp. 38-39, here p. 39.
  123. Cf. Rhodes Forum 2015. The World Beyond Global Disorder. Scientific Program. (23 November 2020), p. 20.
  124. Security policy in EU, Gustav Gustenau, Ministry of Defense, Austria. DOC TV, 16 December 2016, (9 December 2020).
  125. Podiumsdiskussion “Die Beziehungen zwischen der EU und Russland. Energie – Sicherheit – Wirtschaft.” Österreichisch-Russische Freundschaftsgesellschaft, 24 October 2017, (9 December 2020); OMV-Chef Seele: Tauschen Ukraine gegen Deutschland aus. Die Presse, 25 October 2017, (9 December 2020).
  126. Quoted after: Renate Graber, Krach und “Umsturz” in Österreichisch-Russischer Freundschaftsgesellschaft. Der Standard, 15 September 2020, (9 December 2020); Renate Graber, Feindschaft in der Freundschaftsgesellschaft. Der Standard, 19/20 September 2020, p. 19.
  127. Österreichisch-Russische Freundschaftsgesellschaft: Vorstand der ORFG, (9 December 2020).
  128. Hans Rauscher, Die Dinge des Lebens. Der Standard, 1/2 August 2020, p. 1.
  129. Profil des ISP, (9 December 2020).
  130. Gernot Bauer, Tankgebühren. Profil, no. 47, 20,18, pp. 30-33, here p. 33.
  131. FPÖ-nahes Institut: Vertrag wird nicht verlängert. ORF, 22 June 2020, (9 December 2020).

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