June 14. 2024. 1:05

The Daily

Read the World Today

RussiaGate: German police search premises of leading far-right politician

On Thursday (16 May), German authorities searched the premises of Petr Bystron, a top candidate for the far-right Alternative for Germany in June’s EU election, to investigate alleged bribes by Russian officials.

The politician, who currently sits in the Bundestag, rejected the accusations but has so far not commented on the police searches.

Leading up to the searches, involving eleven prosecutors and around 70 police officers, the German Bundestag revoked the parliamentarian’s immunity. The search involved Bystron’s offices in the German parliament, as well as premises in three Bavarian counties, in addition to an object on the Balearic Island of Mallorca.

The two AfD leaders, Alice Weidel and Tino Chrupalla, called the waiver of immunity and the searches a “serious matter”. So far, “no evidence has been presented for the accusations against Mr Bystron that have been made for weeks”, they said in a statement on X.

The Munich Public Prosecutor General’s Office explained in a press statement that it “is conducting an investigation against a member of the Bundestag on initial suspicion of corruption of elected officials and money laundering,” without naming Bystron himself.

According to a spokesperson, “documents and data carriers were seized, which will subsequently be analysed with regard to incriminating or exculpatory evidence”.

In addition, Krah’s parliamentary assistant was arrested for being employed by the Chinese intelligence service.

Other scandals involving the party at large have cost it dearly in recent opinion polls. According to an INSA poll for Bild am Sonntag, the AfD has lost six percentage points, falling from 23% to 17% since the start of 2024, its lowest level in a year.

The Russian connection

The Czech secret service is said to have an audio recording of Bystron in Medwedtschuk’s car, where the alleged money transfer is suspected to have happened.

Media reports at the time cited a Czech member of parliament as saying that Bystron was “rustling money on the recording and counting it”.

The foreign policy expert of the German far-right is known to be one of the most ardent advocates of Russia within the AfD.

After summoning Bystron to explain himself when the allegations first became known, the party’s leadership demanded that the Czech intelligence make the evidence of collusion public, stating that until then, the party “must assume Bystron’s innocence”.

Read more with Euractiv

Slovak president-elect calls to suspend EU election campaigning after shooting

Slovak president-elect calls to suspend EU election campaigning after shooting

Slovakia’s president-elect and Prime Minister Robert Fico’s coalition partner, Peter Pellegrini, called on Thursday (16 May) on all national parties to suspend or tone down campaigning ahead of European Parliament elections after Wednesday’s assassination attempt.

Subscribe now to our newsletter EU Elections Decoded