Scandal in Germany over the trip of far-right AfD deputies to Russia and Donbas

  • Regional parliamentarians from the formation justify the visit due to the “distorted and partisan coverage” of the conflict in Ukraine

It is not the first time that members of Alternative for Germany (AfD) they travel to Russia or to territories annexed by the Kremlin, but on this occasion the visit comes at a particularly inopportune moment: three regional deputies from the German far-right formation confirmed this week that they would visit the Russian Federation and territories of Eastern Ukraine occupied by the Russian army hours before that President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilization of reservists to deal with the Ukrainian offensive.

“In view of the distorted and partisan coverage of the conflict in Ukraine, we want to make our own picture of the situation and examine the humanitarian situation & rdquor ;, he wrote last Monday on his Twitter profile Hans-Thomas Tillschneider, AfD regional deputy in Saxony-Anhalt. Tillschneider – who belongs to the radical and ethnonationalist wing of the party led by Björn Höcke – did not expressly say that he would travel to the eastern part of Ukraine, but indirectly confirmed it by replying to a tweet from the former Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnikin which he published the names of AfD members invited by Russia to visit the occupied territories.

Two more AfD members publicly joined Tillschneider’s message this week: Christian Blexregional deputy for North Rhine-Westphalia, and daniel wald, member of the AfD parliamentary faction in Saxony-Anhalt. The latter described his trip on Twitter as “harmless & rdquor ;.

internal critics

The political scandal has not been long in coming in Germany. Representatives of all parties with parliamentary representation they condemned the visit, which has also generated criticism within the ranks of the far-right formation. “We do not support the trip & rdquor ;, he said Tino ChrupallaAfD co-chairman and head of the party’s parliamentary faction in the Bundestag. Alice Weidel, the other co-president of the ultras, describes “private” the visit of his colleagues and assures that he does not represent the official position of the AfD. The party’s leadership has demanded that the deputies clarify whether they have financed the trip with public money.

Meanwhile, various German media are reporting on the cancellation of the visit by the AfD parliamentarians, who are already in Russia. The public channel ZDF informs that the parliamentarian Blex confirmed this Tuesday by mail that the delegation will not finally travel to the separatist territories of Ukraine. This information has not been, for the time being, publicly confirmed by party sources.

The start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine unleashed internal tensions within the AfD, a party that is already highly divided and has been dragging internal conflicts practically since its foundation in 2013. While the East German federations are showing more close to Putin’s narrative, the Western ones charged against the invasion and demanded that the party clearly distance itself from the Kremlin. This has generated an ambivalent position of the AfD regarding the war in Ukraine.

The visit of ultra-German parliamentarians to Russia also comes at the gates of regional elections in Lower Saxony on October 9, in which the AfD aspires to gain ground. The party’s federation in that West German state now fears that their colleagues’ trip will damage them electorally.

Precedents and rebound

Members of the AfD have already traveled in the past to both Russia and crimea at the invitation of Putin’s official party. In some cases, they even did so as election observers in referendums or elections not recognized internationally in territories annexed by Russia. The most radical wing of the AfD – headed by Höcke, who verges on neo-Nazism and de facto controls the party – does not hide his admiration for the values ultraconservatives, christians and nationalists of Putin, whom they consider a strong man.

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The scandal generated by this latest trip comes at a time when the AfD is picking up in voting intention polls. Some already give him 14%, just over four points away from the Social Democrats of Chancellor Olaf Scholz. The energy crisis and inflation they begin to make a dent in German public opinion, whose support for the measures against the increase in prices taken by the tripartite government of Scholz – made up of Social Democrats, Greens and Liberals – continues to fall.

The AfD leadership openly opposes sanctions against the Russian economy and also against the shipment of weapons to Ukraine. The ultra co-president, Tino Chruplla, warns that the current policy of Berlin can drag the country into a severe recession and also into the “Third World War”.

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