Belgian media is reporting that Russian state media outlet RT Deutsch has become a major player spreading disinformation on social media just weeks ahead of Germany’s federal election. According to a Politico report:
September 3, 2021 Since March, RT Deutsch has focused on promoting anti-vaccine fears around the COVID-19 pandemic and championing the far-right Alternative for Deutschland (AfD). Its efforts, collectively, have racked up roughly 22.7 million interactions on Facebook in the form of comments, likes and shares, according to research from the German Marshall Fund (GMF) of the United States, a Washington-based think tank. […] Ahead of the September 26 vote, the Kremlin-backed outlet is also pursuing a double strategy of promoting AfD, while attacking the Green Party, especially its leader, Annalena Baerbock. They also make routine references to both the CDU and SPD political parties, but mostly leave these groups alone in terms of promotion or attacking their polices. RT Deutsch has not directly waded into the upcoming election. But it has repeatedly championed AfD talking points, including an anti-refugee stance and an end to COVID restrictions, while promoting controversies related to Baerbock, whose anti-Russia stance threatens the Kremlin’s interests. In a recent plagiarism scandal involving the German politician, the Russian outlet produced a series of articles that provided blow-by-blow details of Baerbock’s alleged wrongdoing.
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In June, we reported that German authorities were preparing for foreign influence operations, cyber attacks, and disinformation campaigns ahead of federal elections, identifying Russia, China, and Iran as the principal foreign actors carrying out cyberattacks against German agencies and interests.
In August, we reported that Russian outlets RT and Sputnik were seeking to amplify stories around Germany’s failures to integrate its immigrants and that both outlets are openly supportive of the Alternative for Germany (AfD), a party Russia favors over the CDU.