German political parties campaigning for elections next month are competing to attract 2 million voters with roots in the former Soviet Union, amid concerns that Russian propaganda could sway votes in the community. The biggest push for votes has come from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which has six Russian-German candidates on its party slate, and whose leaders have had two meetings with the community in recent weeks. Including candidates for the Social Democrats, conservatives and other parties, a record number of Russian-German candidates are standing in the election on Sept. 24, after years of having just one representative there – Heinrich Zertik, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU). Zertik is one of about 3 million Germans with roots in Russia and the former Soviet Union, whose ancestors moved there hundreds of years ago, but who faced persecution, torture and exile after two world wars.
Long invisible, the Russian-German population came under the spotlight in January 2016 when an estimated 10,000 of its members hit the streets to protest the alleged rape by migrants of a 13-year-old Russian-German girl.
German police quickly debunked the story as fake news, but the rapid mobilization of so many Russian-Germans through social media raised concerns that they were susceptible to influence operations from Russia.
Western intelligence officials say Moscow is using social media, the expansion of the RT and Sputnik media outlets, and satellite broadcasts to challenge sanctions imposed over Russia’s involvement in Ukraine.
Full Article: Russian-Germans in focus amid fears of Moscow propaganda.