The coronavirus pandemic has made significant adjustments to the implementation of Viktor Medvedchuk's international project, which includes bringing Vladimir Putin's crony to big international politics as an independent actor through the so-called "Inter-Parliamentary Dialogue on Donbas". Along with the recent relaxation of quarantine restrictions, Medvedchuk and his handlers seem to have got a second wind in this regard.
President of the French Senate Gerard Larcher of opposition's Republicans party, said that the upper house is open to Viktor Medvedchuk's proposal to "create a parliamentary dimension of the Normandy format to resolve the situation in Donbas".
Bundestag MP Robbie Schlund has echoed the French legislator by stating that "Medvedchuk's plan needs to be brought to a parliamentary, democratic level, possibly between factions from different countries, similar to the Normandy format".
Of course, the Russian media immediately picked up on the news, portraying these individual statements as the already adopted decision on some new kind of format for the dialogue on Donbas, besides the Minsk talks, created by the chief of the pro-Russian "Opposition Platform – For Life" party in Ukraine and supposedly supported in Europe.
In fact though, what we're observing is not only an attempt to create an alternative to the Normandy format that would be convenient to the Kremlin but also an attempt to finally trampoline Viktor Medvedchuk onto the international political stage, at least at the European level. The project is by no means about satisfying someone's ego – it's a long-term project, ultimately aimed to win a presidential post for its main actor, Viktor Medvedchuk.
However, the efforts toward project implementation remain lame, just as they were in pre-quarantine period.
Firstly, in the latest episode of Medvedchuk's show, as well as in the previous ones, pretty much the same circle of allies with dubious reputation are involved, of whom we're already well aware.
For example, the Parliamentary Dimension of the Normandy format conference held on January 23 at the Luxembourg Palace in France, attended by no more than two dozen participants, was organized by Senator Sebastian Moran. Besides this representative of "republicans", the event was attended by Chairman of the France-Russia Frendship Senate Group Gerard Longuet, member of the French National Assembly and member of the France-Russia Group Natalia Puzyreva (Russian-born), Senator Joel Gario-Mailam, leader of the International Council of Russian Compatriots and chief of the Paris-based Russian Musical Society Pyotr Sheremetyev...
As you can see, some very, very, unbiased company here. If someone doesn't get my sarcasm, I'll put it straight: these are all Kremlin puppets and spinners of Kremlin narratives in France.
When Viktor Medvedchuk set up a buffet event in the Bundestag, it was German parliamentarians from the openly pro-Russian faction Alternative for Germany Waldemar Gerdt and Peter Buestron who organized it.
In fact, we can observe almost the same actors dancing around the Medvedchuk Project, all one way or another funded from Russia's hybrid hydrocarbon budget. But, it's not only due to the obvious Russian component in this political performance that the project won't be able to reach any sufficient heights and become an "alternative" to the existing ones. Also, it is due to the fact that GOP congressmen in the U.S. early this month proposed to introduce sanctions targeting Viktor Medvedchuk as Russia's accomplice.
And this is where it gets exciting. After all, if Washington hits Medvedchuk with sanctions, all efforts aimed at molding this guy into a decent political figure will go down the drain. Meanwhile, those European politicians who are now so zealously rooting for Medvedchuk, thus trampling their own reputation in mud, will find themselves in an even more embarrassing position. Although, apparently, some simply have not a slightest idea of what "reputation" actually means – like the Alternative for Germany representatives. Others – like Gerard Larcher – no longer care about it at the dusk of their political career, while the main thing is the current state of their bank account.