Again, a politician of the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD), visited the Crimea. This makes for irritation – and for protests of the Ukraine.
AfD-politician Waldemar Herdt during a visit to the economic forum in the Crimea in the year 2018
Waldemar Herdt, member of the German Bundestag of the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD), is taking part this week at their own cost, at an economic conference in the Crimean Peninsula, even if he contradicts the official line of the Federal government and in the eyes of the Ukrainian government a criminal offence. “I am not obliged to keep to the opinion of the government,” says Herdt of the DW. “If I can influence, I can bring these folks to the table and mediate.”
Violation of the sovereignty
Recently, the Ukrainian Embassy in Berlin informed the foreign office that 22 people – including five members of the AfD, at the two-day economic forum in Crimea on may 18. April wanted to, without the approval of the Ukrainian authorities. A spokesman for the foreign office said: “The Federal government supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. You followed together with its EU partners on a policy of active non-recognition of the illegal annexation of the Crimea by the Russian Federation.” And further: “The Foreign Ministry informed the deputies about the position of the German government and the reaction of the Ukrainian side on possible travel plans.”
Ukraine condemns Crimean travel with fines
Since Moscow mix 2014 Revolution in the Ukraine and later, Crimea has annexed, considers the Kiev all travel from Russia to the Peninsula as a violation of Ukrainian sovereignty, fines and travel bans, will be punished. But such bans travellers with a deep-rooted pro-Russian sentiments can hardly of a Crimea-travel, says Gustav Gressel from the European Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin, the DW. And the German government interfere in the private travel plans of members. “The AfD is not a player and has no influence on government policy,” says Gressel.
This photo shows a visit to the AfD-politician Christian Blex, Nick Vogel, and Helmut Soaps with a visit to the Crimea in February 2018
The election campaign tactics
The annexation of the Crimea was a turning point in the isolation of Russia by the West, but also in the concentration of the AfD voters in Germany who were born in Russia. At least four percent of the population. Leading members of the party traveled to the annexation in the Region, either at their own expense or at the invitation of Russian foundations. In the Federal election of 2017, the AfD candidate campaigned in both German and in Russian for a rapprochement with Moscow.
“The AfD wants to be close to an authoritarian Regime,” says Rebecca Harms, member of European Parliament for the Green party, the DW. “During the last election I have witnessed for themselves how the AfD was to this group (Russian-German) voters.” In 2017, the AfD received 12.6 percent of the votes and was the third-strongest party in the Parliament. In some districts, in which Russia German almost make up a majority of the voters, the party of about 35 percent.
An AfD Deputy under Russian influence?
AfD-Politician Markus Glad Maier
Since then, the AfD pro, has stepped up Russian setting. In the past year, five of the AfD is a member of the economic forum travelled to the Crimea – in spite of the condemnation by other political parties and the media. Leading officials in the Kremlin saw in mark glad Maier, an AfD Deputy, the Russia and the Crimea on several occasions had visited, even a man whom the Russian government could possibly “completely control”, as German and international media found out.
Herdt calls the Controversy “Russophobia”. “I am convinced 100 percent that glad Maier would have been celebrated as a Hero, if he would have done the exact same thing in the United States,” he says. Gressel, according to such comparisons for the AfD are nothing Unusual, although Russia’s activities in Crimea and its Attempts to influence the elections in other countries, “a violation of international Law, which can be compared with nothing, what did the West ever”.
Not only the AfD is vying for Russian-born voters
However, the established parties are fighting in the run-up to the European elections and the regional elections in East Germany, political relevance, and the tactical successes of the AfD is to be followed. “I’ve been watching a struggle for these voters between the AfD and the Left and even some social Democrats,” says Harms. In addition, the AfD could become the strongest party in the three East German Federal States. A Trend is becoming apparent, says Gressel. “The AfD is a party of the opposition, which is critical to the system,” he says. “But you will always have a greater impact on the political debate and drives the other parties are also populist positions.”