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|Vatnik’s profession||Political party|
|Vatnik’s country of origin||Germany|
Alternative für Deutschland (AfD)
In today's #vatniksoup, I'll introduce a German right-wing and populist political party, Alternative für Deutschland, or AfD (@AfD). The party is best-known for their Euroskeptic and pro-Kremlin politics, and for having strong political and financial ties to the Kremlin.
The party was established in 2013, in the wake of the surge of many conservative, right-wing political parties around Europe. Throughout the years, the party has moved further to the far-right, and has taken stronger opposition against immigration, Islam and the EU.
AfD has become the most popular far-right political party in Germany since WW II. In a recent poll, the party was second strongest party with over 20% support. They've increase their support especially in the "adaptive-pragmatic" middle classes.
The party has also been connected to various ultranationalist, far-right organizations like the German PEGIDA and the Neue Rechte, and the Bulgarian Vazrazhdane (Revival). Some of their members have roots in the German neo-Nazi parties like the NPD.
The party has been labelled as a group of "Putin-Versteher" or Putin understanders, which is also pretty evident from their actions. They're actively contributing to Russian disinformation campaigns and propaganda, and they've criticized many of EU's actions against Russia.
In 2017, three AfD members received a sponsored flight on a private jet to Moscow. The members claimed that the trip was not "party business". In 2021, other three AfD members, including AfD co-chairwoman Alice Weidel, visited Moscow to "normalize" Russian-German relations.
In Mar 2019, then AfD co-leader Alexander Gauland gave an interview to Komsomolskaya Pravda, in which he called the conflict in Ukraine an "internal matter", and that the party is strongly against any economic sanctions against Russia.
In Sep 2022, five members of AfD were planning to visit the Russia-controlled region of Donbas, Ukraine. The trip was allegedly organized by Russia, but was eventually cancelled due to the harsh criticism and public outcry they received.
In Feb 2023, AfD member @SteffenKotre was guest at Solovyov's propaganda show, where he claimed that "ordinary Germans" don't want to send military aid to Ukraine, and it's only the mainstream media that's pushing this narrative so they could turn people against Russia.
The party head, Tino Chrupalla, has claimed that the US "provoked Russia" and is at least partly responsible for the war in Ukraine. He even used the Russian propaganda phrase "The Americans are fighting on Ukraine territory until the last Ukrainian is dead."
AfD was also heavily involved in organizing so-called antiwar demonstrations in Feb 2023. WaPo found out that this "antiwar coalition" was one the Kremlin's goals, after Putin had illegally annexed the four Ukrainian Oblasts in Sep 2022.
Russian political strategists were ordered by the Kremlin officials to build an antiwar sentiment in Germany in order to reduce the support for Ukraine with slogans like "Buy gas, not war" and "Ukraine wants war, Germany want peace".
The documents also revealed that several AfD members were in contact with Russian officials while these plans were being laid out.These rallies were organized throughout Germany,from a small town of Neustrelitz to Stuttgart & were strongly supported by Russia's fifth column.13/19
At these demonstrations, the leader of the Thuringian branch of the AfD, Björn Höcke, claimed that it was the US that ousted Yanukovych in 2014, that the conflict is a "civil war" against Eastern Ukrainians & that Russia merely wants to "free" these people from oppression.
One of Russia's lap dogs in AfD is Markus Frohnmaimer, who was specifically mentioned in a Russian document. "We will have our own absolutely controlled MP in the Bundestag," it declared, while referring to him. The document also requested for "material and media support".
One of AfD's MEPs, Maximillian Krah, is a popular face on China's Global Times, a propaganda outlet controlled by the CCP, and he's also often appeared on the Kremlin's mouthpiece, TASS. He's also strongly opposed the sanctions against Russia.
In Aug 2023, The Insider and Spiegel published a joint investigation on Russian Vladimir Sergienko, who had funneled money and instructions to AfD politicians on a constitutional complaint in Germany against its supplies of weapons to Ukraine:
And AfD's internal documents have confirmed all this: the party condemns the aid to Ukraine and the sanctions against Russia, and describes the US as a "global hegemony" and as an "alien power". In addition, the document calls for closer collaboration with China and Iran.
To conclude: AfD is a far-right populist party that's gaining a lot of traction and popularity in German politics. At the same time, they're acting on behalf of the Kremlin and Vladimir Putin, and often try to undermine any German humanitarian or military aid to Ukraine.