Posted on Mar 23, 2020
Russian newspaper Izvestia claims that German politicians are calling for cancelling sanctions against Russia amid the coronavirus pandemic, citing Waldemar Herdt, a member of the Bundestag’s Committee on Foreign Affairs. "The move to lift anti-Russian sanctions could boost trade in Europe", Izvestia reports the parliamentarian as saying.
Hert is a member of Germany's far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AFD) party, which is promoted by The Kremlin backed RT (Russia Today) through its German speaking outlet, which helps to spread the party's right wing conspiracy theories and to promote AfD-politicians and their political agendas.
AfD supporter Ken Jebsen, a journalist, dismissed from his job with public broadcaster RBB after anti-Semitism charges had been raised against him is a regular guest on RT.
In 2019 German magazine Der Spiegel, together with German broadcaster ZDF, Italian newspaper La Repubblica and the BBC, reported that high-ranking aides in Russian President Vladimir Putin's administration called on the Kremlin to support AFD candidate Markus Frohnmaier in April 2017, just months before Germany's federal elections.
Russia would have "its own absolutely controlled MP in the Bundestag," one document detailed. Another suggested that financial assistance to Frohnmaier's campaign would mean a push for "good relations with the Russian Federation: sanctions, EU interference in Russian domestic politics."
According to the reports, the decision to help Frohnmeier and in return receive favours from him came from the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, who is alleged to have intervened just months before the federal elections in the autumn of 2017. Frohnmeier has denied the allegations.
In 2017, BBC Newsnight's Gabriel Gatehouse met Markus Frohnmeier in Stuttgart. He showed him a document which appeared to be written on behalf of Frohnmeier’s campaign for election to the Bundestag, asking for support from Russia. Frohnmeier denied ever having seen it and said it was "fake".
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Following his election in 2017 Germany’s ruling Christian Democratic party called for Frohnmaier, who has frequently spoken out against EU sanctions on Russia, to step down after reports that he was working under the influence of the Kremlin. Media reports alleged that he had been closely working with the Russian government and that the Kremlin's influencing his political decision-making. He is on record as stating in an interview with public broadcaster NDR that "Crimea belongs to Russia", having travelled to the illegally annexed peninsula as the guest of a Russian "foundation", as well as parts of eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists.
The Romanian born Frohnmeier is married to Russian Journalist Daria Frohnmaier, formerly of Izvestia.
Izvestia reports that the matter of lifting sanctions against Russia is to be discussed by the Bundestag next week, possibly via video link, but even the journal formerly known as the News of the Central Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies acknowledges that there is little or no chance of this happening.
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