German intelligence agency chief Hans-Georg Maassen said in an interview with Reuters on Wednesday that he was worried about the potential extent of Russia’s influence on German voters. “Last year we saw that public opinion in Germany was influenced by the Russians,” Maassen said, who is the head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Germany’s domestic intelligence agency. Asked if he saw this danger also for the pending federal election campaign, he replied: “This could also take place next year, and we’re alarmed.” During the interview, Maassen referred specifically to the case of the alleged abduction of Lisa, a Russian-born girl from Berlin. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov publicly exhorted the German judiciary.
Germany rejected the warning, however, as it turned out that the girl had not been abducted after all. According to Berlin authorities, she had in fact run away from home and then sought a convincing cover story.
“We feel that this is part of a … hybrid threat, where public opinion and decision-making are being influenced,” Maassen said, adding that it was important to make the public aware.
“The best way is to talk about it,” he said. “When people realize that the information they receive isn’t true, but propaganda and disinformation, then the poison of the lie ultimately loses its effect,” he added.