AfD MP ‘under absolute Russian control’
Alternative for Germany (AfD) has been hit by claims that one of its MPs is a Russian intelligence asset.
Markus Frohnmaier denied any links to Russia after alleged intelligence documents emerged which describe him as “under our absolute control”.
The BBC, Spiegel, ZDF TV and Italy’s La Repubblica published an apparent Russian strategy paper from April 2017 detailing plans to influence European policy and public opinion.
The far-right AfD is now the main opposition party in the Bundestag.
The paper names Frohnmaier (pictured) as a candidate in the September 2017 general election and recommends “material and media support” for his campaign.
If elected, “we will have our own MP under our absolute control in the Bundestag”, the paper said.
There is no evidence that Moscow provided any material support to Frohnmaier’s campaign.
The document names Frohnmaier, saying: “Chances of being elected to the Bundestag: high … Required: support in the election campaign.”
Frohnmaier denied any knowledge of the document and said he could not explain why he was named in it.
Lawyers for the member of the anti-immigrant party said he was “never under the control of any third party” and he “never solicited financial or media support in Russian political, economic or civil circles”.
An AfD spokesman denied any foreign intelligence links. “All claims to the contrary are false. We have a member sitting on the parliamentary intelligence oversight committee so we have full information on this,” he said.
The populist party has faced repeated questions over its links to Russia after trips to the country by its leaders emerged. The allegations against Frohnmaier are the most serious charges so far.
Frohnmaier has been outspoken in his support for Russia’s illegal invasion of Crimea, condemned sanctions and on other issues.
The Russian paper was reportedly acquired by the London-based Dossier Centre, an organisation funded by former Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who spent nearly 10 years in jail in Russia.
The document was purportedly attached to an email to President Vladimir Putin’s office from Petr Premyak, a former naval intelligence officer and ex-member of the upper house.
Premyak confirmed to ZDF that he wrote the email but denied he was the author of the attached strategy paper.
The message was sent to Sergei Sokolov, a senior Putin aide.
Another document from April 2017 appears to be a request for help from Frohnmaier’s campaign.
“For the election campaign we urgently would need some support,” the letter said.
“Besides material support we would need media support as well … any type of interviews, reports and opportunities to appear in the Russian media is helpful for us.”
During the campaign, the letter said Frohnmaier would focus on topics including “good relations with the Russia, sanctions, EU interference in Russian domestic politics.”
Markus Frohnmaier. Picture credit: Wikimedia