It’s hardly a secret that the Alternative for Germany party (known as the AfD in German) is a huge fan of Vladimir Putin. Unlike other German parties, the anti-immigrant group is prone to vocally endorsing the Russian president and his policies, both at home and abroad. And the appreciation is clearly mutual. But this time, the AfD’s cozying to Moscow may backfire. The German parliament has opened an administrative inquiry into a trip to Moscow that three leading AfD members took in early 2017, according to German media. Earlier this month, it emerged that an unidentified Russian sponsor paid for the private jet that flew them back to Berlin, footing a €25,400 bill. The AfD delegation was made up of then-party leader Frauke Petry, her husband Marcus Pretzell, who at the time was also a key party figure, and Julian Flak, a lawmaker in Saxony’s state parliament. Both Mr. Pretzell and Mr. Flak have confirmed the reports. However, they declined to say which person or organization paid for the trip.
The move means the AfD possibly violated Germany’s strict party-funding laws, which ban political parties from receiving sums of more than €1,000 from donors based outside the European Union. Furthermore, Mr. Pretzell, as a member of the European parliament, should have informed the administration of the European legislature and provided details about the sponsor, which he seems not to have done. Although both Ms. Petry and Mr. Pretzell left the AfD after the federal election in September, the party could still face a fine.
… The Bundestag administration has demanded a clarification from the AfD, news magazine Der Spiegel reported on Wednesday. But other lawmakers were quick to put two and two together. “For which lawmaker in a state parliament or indeed in the Bundestag would a Russian donor charter a private plane and pay €25,000 for it?” Norbert Röttgen, a senior lawmaker in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU, asked. Green representative Omid Nouripour was blunter. “The AfD is the extension of Putin’s arm in the German parliament,” he said, calling the reports “fatal and shocking.”
Full Article: Russia trip exposes AfD ties to Moscow.