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.

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 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 ISP

Of course, every institution that wants to publish and organise 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).

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 2020, whereby Novomatic has committed itself to total payments of – according to various statements – between 200,000 and 240,000 Euros and in return receives “defined benefits”(3). But one can also find the information that Novomatic only in 2018 and 2019 has paid 240.000 euro 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 Defence, which is a major cooperation partner of ISP”.(5)

Krumpel explained to the Austrian Press Agency (APA) 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 Austrian 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 are 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 organisations”. 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 Defence, 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 Defence and the ISP had already been concluded at the beginning of 2017, i.e. under Social Democratic Defence 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 Defence 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 sit on the Board of the Austrian-Russian Friendship Society was suitable for providing “analyses” about Russia, Bauer replied evasively: the “emphasis” of the ISP was “fixed on security policy issues concerning the neighbouring countries 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 has meanwhile 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 Defence and its liaison to the Secretariat of the Austrian National Security Council, is still represented in the Presidium of this Society – as is Johannes Huebner, a Viennese attorney-at-law, who served as a 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 to meet Chechen ruler Ramzan Kadyrov. 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).

In March 2014 Gudenus and Huebner belonged to the “international observers” who conducted a “fake monitoring”(14) of the “referendum” on the Crimea peninsula, already occupied by Russian troops (the trip had been organized by the Moscow-funded organisation “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 Doskozil. Doskozil, according to Gudenus, had suggested to the Freedom Party by telephone that it should set up an association focused on security policy, modelled on similar projects of the Social Democratic Party and the Austrian People’s Party, which would then be funded by the Ministry of Defence (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 Defence. 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 Defence Minister have examined the provision of services before releasing funds to the ISP. If there had been a corresponding consideration by the ISP, there was no problem. In any case, this had nothing to do with financing of political parties. – With this, Governor Doskozil’s office, intentionally or unintentionally, backed the relevant statements by Tschank. However, Tschank emphasised that under Minister Doskozil (who was in office between 26 January 2016 and 18 December 2017) there had been payments from the Ministry of Defence 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 Defence under Minister Doskozil – exactly 100,000 euro 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 475,000 euros 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 Defence 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 200,000 euros 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” in May 2019, 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 Defence 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 Defence, which was headed by Freedom Party Minister of Defence 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 Defence 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 not 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 defence 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 Defence “cooperates”(26). (in plain language: which keeps it alive with taxpayers’ money). In an appendix to Starlinger’s unilluminating letter there is 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 Defence, the ISP focuses on the analysis of interactions of political projections from the U.S. and Russia” (what actually are “interactions of political projections from the U.S. and Russia”?) And further in the text: “The services provided by the ISP show a high quality and policy relevance within the security and defence policy consultation process of the Federal Ministry of Defence”(27). In other words, an objective examination of the content of the ISP’s activities or of the Ministry of Defence’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 Defence – not to mention possible hidden financing for the Freedom Party. By the way, on 2 December 2019 the ISP together with Novomatic organised 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 still involved in all these events are either silent and stonewalling, trying to cover up or even laying false trails.

Tschank, as a lawyer not really a representative of an impoverished professional group and at times a MP with a corresponding salary, via the ISP took extra incomes with 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 36,000 euro per year as “management fee”. 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 350 Euro. In addition, there were “overhead costs” [Regiekosten], i.e. “rent and personnel costs for the office”, which Tschank charged at a flat rate: another 9,000 euro 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 “are 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” investigative committee 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 45,000 euros 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 Austrian National Council’s “Ibizagate” inquiry committee, concluded that “money from Novomatic has been channelled 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 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 Audit Chamber by making donations to the Freedom Party. According to Profil, the Austrian judiciary as per June 2020 considers Novomatic’s payments to the ISP as “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 Audit Chamber but not to Parliament. The ISP transferred 27,000 euro 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 25,000 euro in 2017 and 10,000 in 2018. The purpose of these transactions is unclear(35).

It is also interesting that Tschank was connected with Krumpel (who was earlier press secretary of the member of the provincial government of Lower Austria in charge of finances, People’s Party member Wolfgang Sobotka – today as Speaker of the National Council the second man in the state): 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) is 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 the organiser 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 Kunasek, Norbert Hofer (Transport, Innovation and Technology) and Karin Kneissl (Foreign Affairs), who were provided or nominated by the Freedom Party. In addition, Freedom Party member Wolfgang Baumann, then Secretary General of the Ministry of Defence, as well as politicians from Slovenia, Bulgaria and Croatia, among others, attended. Reports on this scientifically unproductive, but all the more expensive event can still be found on the homepages of the Ministry of Defence(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 as Grand Master, “aims at the veneration of St. George as patron saint of chivalry” and supports “the old Austrian idea of state”(39).

In February 2019, Udo Landbauer, Freedom Party member of the provincial parliament 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, kept ostentatiously silent. When asked about 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).

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 Defence Academy in Vienna; see below) invited to the presentation of a “political thriller”, namely “2054 – Putin decoded” by Alexander Rahr. 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 (currently against Ukraine as well as in Syria and Libya) and annexations of the Ukrainian peninsula Crimea and, de facto, the separatist 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 was “even” found in a report on this event, which the Austrian-Russian Friendship Society put on its homepage: there 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.

As of mid-June 2020, the ISP homepage contains 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 almost always “astonishingly compatible” with the official positions of the Kremlin.

Basically, the question arises, whether all the people appearing in the “experts” section are aware of their honour to be allowed to have contact with the ISP. At least there was 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 can still be found on the homepage in the capacity of an author of publications(44). 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 organisations in Vienna and Germany lead to people in the circle of the Russian Government.”(45)

Yes, and later on to the ISP (this Standard article had been published in 2016, i.e. before its foundation)(46). Kofner was active for the journal Compact, edited by the German Jürgen Elsässer, which supportes 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)(47), is a permanent guest in Russian state-run media and has excellent contacts even to high-ranking officials in Moscow. 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-neurasism, 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(48), Vladimir Yakunin(49), the pro-Kremlin politician Konstantin Kosachev(50), Alexander Gauland of the extreme right-wing party Alternative for Germany (Alternative für Deutschland, or AfD)(51) and, mirabile dictu, the then head of the Austrian Economic Chamber, Christoph Leitl (People’s Party)(52). 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(53). 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.”(54) 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 (Odessa, Nikolaev, Kherson, Donetsk, Lugansk, Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporozhye, Kirovograd) and possibly also Transnistria.”(55)

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 jeopardise his excellent contacts to Moscow and the Russian Embassy in Vienna.

Also worthy of note is the “Performance Review of the Institute for Security Policy 2017-2019” published on the homepage of the Austrian Parliament(56). It shows a “strong envolvement” of Rahr, Markedonov and Fyodor Lukyanov (see below) in ISP activities. In addition, there are, among others, Lothar Höbelt, Professor of modern history at the University of Vienna, who is close to 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 Civilisations” 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 organised a panel discussion on the topic “Ukraine, quo vadis?” in cooperation with the Austrian-Russian Friendship Society: Should this guarantee the greatest possible “objectivity”?


(1) Gernot Bauer, Die Ibiza-Affäre: Spuren zu “Verein”. Profil, 19 May 2019, (14 June 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, (17 June 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, (14 June 2020).
(6) Quoted after: Novomatic finanziert Institut von FPÖ-Mandatar Tschank. ORF, 16 August 2019, (20 June 2020).
(7) Quoted after: Ibid.
(8) Quoted after: Hedi Schneid, Novomatic pausiert beim Kaufrausch. Die Presse, 6 February 2019, (16 June 2020).
(9) Quoted after: Novomatic finanziert Institut von FPÖ-Mandatar Tschank. ORF, 16 August 2019, (20 June 2020).
(10) L. Matzinger, Wofür bekommt das FPÖ-nahe ISP so viel Geld, Herr Bauer? Falter, 21 November 2018, (20 June 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, (7 July 2020).
(13) Quoted after: Aufregung um FPÖ-Besuch bei Kadyrow. Der Standard, 8 February 2012, (7 July 2020).
(14) Гелия Певзнер, Эксперт: Крайне правые Австрии видят в Путине «антиглобалиста». [interview with Anton Shekhovtsov]. Rfi na russkom, 30 May 2019, (07.07.2020).
(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, (7 July 2019).
(17) Spuren von Kokain bei Gudenus-Hausdurchsuchung gefunden. Die Presse, 27 November 2019, (20 June 2020); Dominik Schreiber and Kid Möchel, Bilder zeigen Gudenus bei mutmaßlichem Drogenkonsum: War er erpressbar? Kurier, 16 June 2020, (20 June 2020).
(18) Doskozil kontert Gudenus-Aussagen: “Größter Blödsinn”. ORF, 24 June 2020, (24 June 2020).
(19) Quoted after: Idee für FPÖ-Verein ISP kam laut Gudenus von Doskozil. Puls 24, 20 June 2020, (20 June 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, (21 June 2020).
(22) Renate Graber, Fabian Schmid and Andreas Schnauder, Ermittler decken Großspenden an FPÖ-Vereine auf. Der Standard, 19.02.2020, (22 June 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, (20 June 2019).
(25) ENTSCHLIESSUNGSANTRAG der Abgeordneten Mag. Hammer, Dr. Moser [,] Kolleginnen und Kollegen. 253/UEA XXVI. GP – Entschließungsantrag (gescanntes Original), (12 June 2020).
(26) Mag. Thomas Starlinger – Bundesminister für Landesverteidigung, 13. August 2019, S91145/2-PMVD/2019 (1). (14 June 2020).
(27) [Untitled document]. II-321 der Beilagen XXVI. GP – Sonstige Anlage – Beilage, (14 June 2020).
(28) Sebastian Fellner, Renate Graber and Fabian Schmid, Gefördertes blaues Institut war für Obmann lukrative Geldquelle. Der Standard, 10 March 2020, (15 June 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), (15 June 2020).
(30) [Brief der Bundesministerin für Justiz an den Präsidenten des Nationalrates]. 1276/AB, vom 12.05.2020 zu 1267/J (XXVII. GP), (15 June 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, S. 23.
(33) Stefan Melichar, Jakob Winter and Christina Hiptmayr, Ibiza-Protokoll – Strache: “Was will sie? ” Profil, 21 August 2020, (22 August 2020).
(34) Auch Strache war an Tschank-Firma beteiligt. ORF, 26 June 2020, (26 June 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, (15 June 2020); Fabian Schmid, Blaues “Institut” mit Novomatic-Geld und russischem Identitären. Der Standard, 18 August 2019, (15 June 2020).
(37) 1. Mitteleuropäische Sicherheitskonferenz in Wien. Bundesheer, 15 May 2018, (15 June 2020).
(38) Mitteleuropäische Sicherheitskonferenz. St.Georgs-Orden, [undated], (15 June 2020).
(39) Quoted after: Fabian Schmid, Blaues “Institut” mit Novomatic-Geld und russischem Identitären. Der Standard, 18 August 2019, (15 June 2020); see also: Clemens Neuhold, Zu blaues Blut: Die FPÖ und der St. Georgs-Orden. Profil, 4 September 2019, (19 June 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, (16 June 2020).
(42) Quoted after: Jörg Lau, Wie soll Deutschland mit Russland umgehen? Zeit Online, 14 March 2013, (16 June 2020).
(43) Experten. ISP, (17 June 2020).
(44) See: Jurij Kofner, Economic outlook for the Eurasian Economic Union until 2024. ISP, 30 December 2019, (16 June 2020); ders.: 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).
(45) Fabian Schmid and Markus Sulzbacher, Identitäre Grüße aus Moskau: Rechtsextreme Allianz mit dem Osten. Der Standard, 16 June 2016, (17 June 2020).
(46) See: Fabian Schmid, Blaues “Institut” mit Novomatic-Geld und russischem Identitären. Der Standard, 18 August 2019, (17 June 2020). – Here Kofner is addressed as a “Russian Identitarian”, but he is not mentioned by name.
(47) See: Thomas Korn and Andreas Umland, Jürgen Elsässer, Kremlpropagandist. Zeit Online, 19 July 2014, (18 June 2020).
(48) Yuri Kofner, Facebook, 14 October 2016, (16 June 2020).
(49) Yuri Kofner, Facebook, 23 November 2014, (16 June 2020).
(50) Yuri Kofner, Facebook, 14 October 2014, (20 June 2020).
(51) Yuri Kofner, Facebook, 19 August 2017, (16 June 2020).
(52) Yuri Kofner, Facebook, 28 May 2017, (16 June 2020).
(53) Yuri Kofner, Facebook, 27 December 2014, (30 April 2019).
(54) Anton Shekhovtsov, Facebook, 26 June 2020, (08.07.2020).
(55) Юрий Кофнер, Русская весна как движение ненасильственного освобождения., 19 May 2014, (26 June 2020).
(56) Leistungsübersicht des Instituts für Sicherheitspolitik 2017-2019, (17 June 2020).