Thomas Haldenwang claimed the right-wing Alternative for Germany party had become the main peddler of pro-Moscow messages
Stories described by German authorities as Russian propaganda are gaining more and more popularity in the country, said Thomas Haldenwang, the head of the domestic intelligence service. This is largely due to the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, he believes.
Recent polls showed the right-wing party hit its highest level of support in five years.
Appearing on German television channel ARD on Monday, Haldenwang said that “The Russian accounts are relayed by elements of this party.“He warned that”right-wing extremism can develop in Germany” and that “Putin’s song is sung in these circles.”
As an example of such a message, Haldenwang cited Moscow’s alleged efforts to convince the German public that its military campaign in Ukraine was launched as a result of the West’s undermining of Russia’s security interests.
According to Haldenwang, “good channels to wider segments of the populationhave been established by those pushing supposedly pro-Russian narratives. Those who peddle such so-called disinformation have found traditional ways to spread it, the intelligence chief believes.
“In this sense, the Russian media is no longer needed, but the German media are embracing these narratives in this environment,“said the official.
He went on to accuse Russia of trying to destabilize German democracy on many levels, saying the country is under increasing pressure”from various sides, inside and outside.”
Meanwhile, German media Bild am Sonntag on Sunday published the results of a recent opinion poll indicating that the AfD currently enjoys the support of 17% of the population. This figure is the highest since October 2018, the article points out.
The Green Party, which is part of the ruling “traffic light” coalition, is backed by 14% of Germans. The other two members, the Social Democrats and the Free Democrats, obtained 21% and 8% respectively in the poll.
If general elections were held now, the coalition would fall short of a parliamentary majority, according to the outlet.
Late last month, Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution declared Junge Alternative (JA), the youth wing of the AfD, to be an extremist organisation.
The JA board, in turn, described the decision as an attempt to stifle “any form of genuine opposition.”
Since the start of Russia’s military campaign against Ukraine last February, the AfD has repeatedly criticized Berlin’s anti-Russian sanctions as undermining Germany’s own economy. The party also called for an end to arms deliveries to kyiv.
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