The London organization Dossier Center, run by oligarch and Putin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky, released suspected intelligence reports this week from former Russian diplomat Valery Levitsky. He worked for years in France, but was expelled from the country in 2018 for spying activities for the Russian intelligence service GRU. In the reports, of which NRC cannot establish its authenticity, Levitsky describes SP member Tiny Kox as his ‘contact’ in the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe.
Kox was for many years the leader of the United European Left in this body – not part of the EU – that monitors compliance with human rights in the member countries. Kox has been chairman of the assembly since the beginning of this year.
According to the documents, Levitsky claims to have been the first to come up with the idea of putting Kox forward as a candidate for the presidency. He is said to have proposed this to former Secretary General Bruno Aller in August 2017. “I called him Kox. Initially, he objected that the leader of the left would never lead the meeting… On reflection, Bruno agreed: in the absence of other strong figures, Tini’s candidacy is preferred,” the report said.
A few days later, Levitsky would also have discussed the candidacy with René van der Linden of the CDA. Van der Linden is a former State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, who chaired the assembly between 2005 and 2008. According to the documents, Levitsky advocated for Kox during a summer 2017 visit to Van der Linden in France. “Spent Saturday with René at his estate in Savoy,” the report reads. When asked, Van der Linden acknowledges that he received the Russian during his vacation. “That was purely friendly. We never talked about the assembly for a moment,” says Van der Linden, who, like Bruno Aller, maintained contacts in Strasbourg after his retirement.
Van der Linden was previously discredited when he, as ambassador for the province of Limburg, for 116,160 euros, especially strengthened ties with Azerbaijan, which is known for its human rights violations. Van der Linden was on friendly terms with dictator Ilham Aliyev and in a short time led six Limburg trade missions to that country.
It would not have been illogical for the Russians to want to see Kox as chairman of the assembly in Strasbourg. At the end of 2017, the SP was one of the initiators of a consultation in Paris between members of the assembly and Russian parliamentarians about returning the voting rights to the Russians. “European governments have never wanted to take away the right to vote from Russia. Then it is not up to the assembly to do that,” said Kox at the time.
He was the secretary of the Russian delegation. He delivered the coffee
Tiny Kox about contact with Levitsky
In response, he now says that he has never met Levitsky one-on-one. “He was the secretary of the Russian delegation. He delivered the coffee,” says Kox. The SP does, however, acknowledge that he still regularly speaks with Van der Linden. Kox does not think it is surprising that the CDA member met the Russian spy during his vacation. “It was not yet known at the time that he worked for the intelligence service. As chairman, René once met Putin and kept a fascination for Russia. I don’t find it strange at all that he will see someone from that delegation after his retirement.”
Read alsoThis opinion piece by Tiny Kox about Russia from 2019
The SP takes into account that he is the victim of a Russian disinformation campaign. Kox points out that the presidents of the assembly are elected on a rotational basis. “Now it was my group’s turn. I am the first assembly president to expel the Russians (after the invasion of Ukraine, ed.). They probably didn’t thank me for that.”
A version of this article also appeared in the newspaper of September 16, 2022