Far Right’s Ties to Russia Sow Rising Alarm in Germany

To enter a secret session of Germany’s Parliament, lawmakers must lock their phones and leave them outside. Inside, they are not even allowed to take notes. Yet to many politicians, these precautions against espionage now feel like something of a farce.

Because seated alongside them in those classified meetings are members of the Alternative for Germany, the far-right party known by its German abbreviation, AfD.

In the past few months alone, a leading AfD politician was accused of taking money from pro-Kremlin strategists. One of the party’s parliamentary aides was exposed as having links to a Russian intelligence operative. And some of its state lawmakers flew to Moscow to observe Russia’s stage-managed elections.

“To know with certainty that sitting there, while these sensitive issues are discussed, are lawmakers with proven connections to Moscow — it doesn’t just make me uncomfortable. It worries me,” said Erhard Grundl, a Green party member of the Parliament’s foreign affairs committee.

The AfD called such comments “baseless.”

While some of the accusations against the AfD may be attempts at point-scoring by political rivals, the security concerns are real. As evidence of the party’s links to Moscow accumulate, suspicions are being expressed across the spectrum of mainstream German politics.

“The AfD keeps acting like the long arm of the terrorist state Russia,” Roderich Kiesewetter, the deputy head of the Parliament’s intelligence committee and a member of the center-right Christian Democrats, wrote on social media.

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