MOSCOW, May 20. /TASS/. The scandal around former Austrian Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache is a "perfect provocation" staged by European liberal forces, Chairman of the Russian Federation Council (the upper house of parliament) Foreign Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachev wrote on Facebook.
"It is so clear that we can say it was an ideal provocation: an attack on the leader of the right-wing Freedom Party of Austria and, eventually, at Chancellor Kurz, who is unpopular with Europe’s liberal mainstream, right before the European parliamentary election because Europe’s right forces have a chance to gain a record-high share of the vote, so there is ‘a Russian trace’ and an allegedly independent journalistic investigation," the senior Russian senator pointed out.
Kosachev compared the incident to the scandal around 2017 French presidential candidate Francois Fillon who had faced accusations in relation to his wife’s job. "The system has worked once again: the ruling liberal forces are trying to discredit right-wing politicians at all costs, they are labeling them as populists and fascists but nevertheless, they are unable to reduce their growing popularity and the Europeans’ fatigue from having to choose between similarly looking liberal parties that differ only in their names," he noted.
Kosachev also said that the incident was "part of a well-planned international campaign" and other "revelations" would follow with "a Russian trace" to be found.
On May 18, Austrian Chancellor and leader of the Austrian People's Party Sebastian Kurz gave up cooperation with the Freedom Party of Austria within the current coalition government and called a snap election.
Leader of the Freedom Party of Austria Heinz-Christian Strache earlier stepped down as the country’s Vice Chancellor after the German magazine Der Spiegel and the newspaper Sьddeutsche Zeitung had published a hidden camera video, which showed Strache, his aide Johann Gudenus and an unknown Russian-speaking woman discussing the possibility of buying the tabloid Kronen Zeitung and securing information support for the party ahead of the 2017 parliamentary election in return for access to construction contracts in Austria.
As a result, both Strache and Gudenus had to step down. Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen suggested holding a snap parliamentary election in September. The chancellor said he expected the coalition government to continue its activities until the election took place.