RussiaOctober 8 2022, 12:02 pm

Far-Right German Political Party Delegation Cancels Trip to Russian-Occupied Ukraine

US media report­ed last month that a planned vis­it to Russ­ian-occu­pied Ukraine by politi­cians from a Ger­man far-right polit­i­cal par­ty had been can­celed. Accord­ing to the New York Times report, the planned trip by the Alter­na­tive for Ger­many (AfD) group had received wide­spread criticism:

Sep­tem­ber 21, 2022 Berlin — A planned vis­it by far-right state politi­cians from the Alter­na­tive for Ger­many par­ty to a Russ­ian-occu­pied part of east­ern Ukraine has been can­celed, accord­ing to a par­ty spokesman, after news of the trip prompt­ed wide­spread crit­i­cism. “The trip has been called off,” a spokesman for the par­ty, known as AfD, said on Wednes­day. The spokesman shared an email with The New York Times from a mem­ber of the del­e­ga­tion inform­ing the par­ty that they had decid­ed to can­cel. While the vast major­i­ty of Ger­mans sup­port Ukraine as it fights the Russ­ian inva­sion, a num­ber of far-right — and far-left — politi­cians argue for main­tain­ing good rela­tions with Moscow. That posi­tion is con­tro­ver­sial, even with­in the politi­cians’ own par­ties. On Mon­day, Chris­t­ian Blex, a state­house rep­re­sen­ta­tive in North Rhine-West­phalia, said on the Telegram mes­sag­ing app that he and two oth­er state­house rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Sax­ony-Anhalt were vis­it­ing Russ­ian-occu­pied areas of Don­bas to see the “human­i­tar­i­an sit­u­a­tion.” He did not give a spe­cif­ic itin­er­ary. Echo­ing a Krem­lin line, he accused West­ern media of bias when report­ing on the sit­u­a­tion in occu­pied areas.  Crit­ics of the trip point­ed out that such a vis­it under Russ­ian pro­tec­tion would be used to try to scratch away at Ger­man uni­ty over the issue. The AfD itself dis­owned the vis­it. “All this shows on which side the AfD stands — Putin’s,” said Kat­ja Mast, a fed­er­al law­mak­er from the Social Demo­c­ra­t­ic par­ty, on Tues­day. “Such trips are exploit­ed by Putin’s pro­pa­gan­da machine and do mas­sive dam­age to Germany’s rep­u­ta­tion and inter­ests.” Andrij Mel­nyk, the out­spo­ken Ukrain­ian ambas­sador to Berlin, said on Twit­ter that the trip sup­port­ed Russia’s “war of exter­mi­na­tion” and called on the Ger­man domes­tic intel­li­gence agency to investigate.

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Mul­ti­ple media report­ed the vis­it was spon­sored by the Russ­ian Duma.

An ear­li­er Euro­pean media report indi­cat­ed that the AfD del­e­ga­tion of three region­al MPs had already left Ger­many for Rus­sia plan­ning  fur­ther trav­el to the East of Ukraine  to “clar­i­fy the human­i­tar­i­an sit­u­a­tion.” The report also not­ed that it was not the first time the AfD vis­it­ed Russ­ian-occu­pied Ukrain­ian ter­ri­to­ries. In 2018, dur­ing the Russ­ian elec­tion, sev­er­al high-rank­ing AfD politi­cians vis­it­ed Crimea, which Rus­sia has annexed since 2014. Final­ly, the report indi­cat­ed that the AfD had long been accused of tak­ing pro-Russ­ian posi­tions. While offi­cial­ly con­demn­ing the war, they also advo­cat­ed open­ing the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and stop­ping weapon deliv­er­ies to Ukraine.

Ger­many has one of the largest Russ­ian dias­po­ras, with an esti­mat­ed 6 mil­lion Russ­ian-speak­ing peo­ple liv­ing there. The AfD has more sup­port in east­ern Ger­many, which is skep­ti­cal of EU mem­ber­ship and where his­toric ties include ‘resid­ual cul­tur­al empa­thy with Rus­sia. A new poll from late Sep­tem­ber showed that the AfD would be the strongest polit­i­cal par­ty in the for­mer East Ger­many were elec­tions to be held now, with 27% of peo­ple in the East vot­ing for the par­ty as opposed to 12% of for­mer West Ger­mans. A Ger­man aca­d­e­m­ic has con­clud­ed that the AfD is a nation­al-con­ser­v­a­tive par­ty with many bridges to Ger­many’s right-wing extremism.

In Decem­ber 2001, the Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) report­ed that cov­er­age of con­tro­ver­sial top­ics by Rus­si­a’s Ger­man-lan­guage pro­pa­gan­da chan­nel RT Deutsch showed “sig­nif­i­cant con­gru­ence” with the polit­i­cal and social posi­tions pro­mot­ed by the AfD.


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