Far-right German politicians accused of pro-Putin ‘propaganda trip’ | Germany

Politicians from a far-right party in Germany who are visiting Russia and planning to travel to Russian-occupied eastern Ukraine have been accused of supporting Vladimir Putin’s war and undertaking a “propaganda journey”.

The five Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) politicians said their goal was to “see the humanitarian situation with their own eyes”, but were asked to provide details of their visit to the party leadership, who apparently knew nothing about it beforehand. . The party’s deputy leader, Peter Boehringer, said the trip was not on behalf of the AfD.

Three of the group are members of state legislatures, two from Saxony-Anhalt and one from North Rhine-Westphalia. In a statement on his Facebook and Telegram accounts, Christian Blex of the North Rhine-Westphalia AfD, one of the travelers, posted a pin with an entwined German and Russian flag.

A pin with an entwined German and Russian flag
Christian Blex placed a pin with the entwined flags on it. Photo: Christian Blex / Facebook

The TAZ daily called it “particularly perfidious”, in light of recent reports of mass graves discovered in Izium, that the party chose to describe its visit as a humanitarian investigative trip.

The US-based Robert Lansing Institute for Global Threats and Democracies Studies (IGTDS), which describes itself as an impartial, not-for-profit research organization, said the trip was under the auspices of Russia’s military intelligence agency. members of which would accompany the politicians to Donbas. The institute was the first to release the information.

Hans-Thomas Tillschneider, co-head of the AfD’s Saxony-Anhalt branch, and Daniel Wald, also a member of the Saxony-Anhalt Legislative Assembly, released a statement through the AfD faction in the meeting highlighting that the party “see for its own eyes” outside the coverage of the mainstream media reports, “especially those of the public broadcasters”, which it said it was critical of.

According to the IGTDS, the politicians’ visit took place between September 20 and 28. They would fly to the Russian port city of Rostov-on-Don and from there travel to the occupied Donbas region.

The AfD is known for its pro-Russian, sometimes pro-Putin stance. The traveling politicians are known for their support for maintaining German-Soviet relations despite the war, including the lifting of sanctions against Russia. They also expressed support for the opening of the Nord Stream II pipeline, which was intended to supply a new gas supply from Russia to Germany in addition to Nord Stream I, before it was demolished by Olaf Scholz, the Chancellor, just before the start of the invasion of Ukraine.

Tillschneider has described Putin as an “authentic guy, a real man with a healthy set of values”.

Andriy Melnyk, Ukraine’s outgoing ambassador to Germany, shared the IGTDS report on Twitter before it was officially published. He accused the politicians of supporting Russia’s “war of annihilation” with their travel, and urged the head of Germany’s federal office for constitutional protection, Thomas Haldenwang, to “act now” and take steps. against the politicians. Melnyk accused Martin Reichardt, the head of the AfD’s Saxony-Anhalt branch, of being “Putin’s fifth column in Germany”.

The AfD leadership appeared to be highly critical of the trip, but its outcry was limited to the group’s failure to pre-register or get approval from them, rather than the fact that they had traveled to Russia. . It called on the group to “widely publicize” the organization behind the trip and its implementation.

It is not the first visit of its kind. Blex traveled to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2018.

Since the invasion of Ukraine, AfD politicians have regularly given interviews to Russian state media. In one such interview, Eugen Schmidt, a member of parliament in the Bundestag, referred to Germany as an “illegitimate state”.

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