Russia uses Germany's AfD in influence campaigns – think tank
Russia is once again exploiting its agents of influence from among German right-wing politicians, and this time is trying to legitimize the unrecognized "republics" in eastern Ukraine and induce another split between German and the U.S.
While Washington considers recognizing Russia as a terrorism-financing state, Russia involved Ulrich Oehme of the Alternative for Germany party, who is also a member of the German delegation to PACE, to lobby the initiative to involve representatives of the self-proclaimed pro-Russian "DPR" and "LPR" in the Normandy Four talks on Donbas settlement, Democratic Europe reported citing IGTDS.
This way, the Kremlin is trying to set up a precedent to legitimize the separatist organizations they control and to provoke another conflict with Washington after certain German politicians get in touch with representatives of terrorist organizations.
While on military service with the GDR armed forces, Oehme came into a spotlight of Soviet military intelligence. In 1994-1997, he worked as an insurance broker in Russia, where he was allegedly offered cooperation with Russian intelligence.
Before becoming an AfD member, the Saxony-based insurance broker was a member of the Die Freiheit party, a low-profile right-wing party that has long ceased to exist. He is also a vivid supporter of the Pegida anti-Islamic movement.
Over the past two years, Russian propaganda has been intensively using AfD's Ulrich Oehme in various campaigns. In 2018, he visited the occupied Crimea at least twice.
In February 2018, some 10 members of German regional parliaments of North Rhine-Westphalia, Berlin and Baden-Württemberg representing the AfD illegally visited Russia-annexed Crimea to discuss the lifting of western sanctions. The next month, AfD's Oehme, accompanied by German far-right journalist Manuel Ochsenreiter, observed the illegitimate presidential election in Crimea.
Oehme's official statement confirms that the visit to Crimea was made at the invitation of the Russian side, while the donor was never identified, which is a gross violation of anti-corruption legislation.
Ulrich Oehme is often invited to Russia, where skillful manipulators further motivate him toward continued cooperation, including by offering to deliver lectures, giving him various awards, and widely quoting him in local media.
Der Spiegel noted another suspicious trip by Oehme, to Iraq, which could as well include illegal border crossing as the Kurdish regional government, it appears, allowed him to enter without a visa, although this is a criminal offense in Iraq.