Crime: Searches at AfD MP Bystron

Crime: Searches at AfD MP Bystron

In the event of a possible Russian connection between AfD politician Bystron, the investigators are switching up a gear and searching offices in the Bundestag. It is said that the presumption of innocence applies.

Due to initial suspicions of bribery and money laundering, the Munich Public Prosecutor’s Office has initiated investigations against AfD MP Petr Bystron and searched several properties. This also included Bystron’s parliamentary office in the Jakob Kaiser House of the Bundestag. The Bundestag had previously lifted his immunity.

Searches in several locations

According to the Attorney General’s Office, searches were also planned at several locations in Bavaria in the districts of Munich, Erding and Deggendorf, as well as on Mallorca. Eleven public prosecutors and around 70 police officers from the Bavarian State Criminal Police Office were involved.

A spokesman for the public prosecutor’s office said witnesses were also searched who were not considered defendants in the proceedings. The main aim is to secure documents and data carriers in order to search them for evidence.

The Munich Public Prosecutor’s Office pointed out that the presumption of innocence applies until a possible conviction. Bystron itself could not initially be reached for comment. The MP from the Munich-North constituency has been the AfD’s chairman in the Bundestag’s Foreign Affairs Committee since 2017.

Bystron: This will cost us some votes

He expects the search to harm his party in the upcoming elections. “This will cost us a few votes in the elections,” he told “Zeit online”. “It will deter people who were considering voting for the AfD.” But other voters would stick with the AfD: “Those who know the history of our party, which has been damaged by counter-campaigns, will not be deterred.”

Headlines because of Russia and China connections

Bystron is in second place on the AfD’s list of candidates for the European elections on June 9th. Bystron and top candidate Maximilian Krah have been in the headlines for weeks because of possible connections to pro-Russian networks and possible financial payments. In March, following secret service investigations, the Czech Republic put the pro-Russian internet platform “Voice of Europe” (VoE) on the national sanctions list, and interviews with Bystron and Krah were also published there.

The site is part of a Russian influence operation aimed at questioning Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and freedom. A Czech newspaper reported that Bystron may have also accepted money.

As a result of this and other reporting, the public prosecutor’s office in Munich initiated so-called preliminary investigations in the Bystron case in order to check whether there was initial suspicion of criminal behavior involving bribery of members of parliament. According to dpa information, the investigations that have now been initiated concern the allegations in connection with “Voice of Europe”.

Former employee arrested on suspicion of espionage

The law enforcement authorities in Dresden had also initiated a preliminary investigation against Krah, who comes from Dresden, and another into possible payments from China. While the Munich team is now taking the next step and investigating Bystron, the preliminary investigation into the Krah case is continuing in Dresden. When asked in the Saxon capital, there was no new stand. Krah and Bystron stated that they had not accepted any money.

Krah is also in focus because his former employee Jian G. was arrested on suspicion of spying for China. In connection with the investigation against G., the Federal Prosecutor’s Office had Krah’s offices and those of his ex-employee in the European Parliament in Brussels searched on Tuesday last week.

Documents belonging to Krah are protected by his immunity as an MP. Immunity can only be lifted by a resolution of Parliament at the request of the authorities. However, the responsible committee of the European Parliament will no longer meet before the European elections on June 9th. Krah himself denies any wrongdoing.

AfD leaders continue to miss evidence

The AfD leadership has so far stuck to its two European election candidates. After a short break, Krah is making campaign appearances again and in Bystron’s case, party leaders Alice Weidel and Tino Chrupalla only said briefly in writing: “The lifting of immunity and the search of Petr Bystron’s office and private rooms are a serious matter.”

So far, no evidence has been presented for the allegations that have been made against him for weeks. The group hopes that the investigation will be concluded quickly, “so that there is no suspicion that authorities and public prosecutors who are bound by instructions are trying to influence the European election campaign.”

Since the allegations against Bystron and Krah became known, there have been repeated suspicions in the AfD that this could be in connection with the upcoming European elections in order to harm the AfD. AfD MP Stefan Keuter told journalists on the sidelines of the search operation in Bystron’s Bundestag office: “The presumption of innocence still applies.” Bystron told him that the allegations were unfounded and that he had nothing to blame himself for. “And as long as there is no evidence that can be used in court to prove otherwise, I assume innocence.”

SPD demands consequences

The SPD parliamentary group called for consequences: “The AfD presents itself as a law-and-order party, but in its ranks there are people who only have their own benefit in mind. Even if Germany is damaged in the process, they don’t care at all “, said the parliamentary managing director of the parliamentary group, Katja Mast, “ntv.de”.

The AfD party leadership must finally take responsibility. The Green MP Katrin Göring-Eckardt called Bystron the “extended arm of the Kremlin”. In a debate on the Basic Law, the Bundestag Vice President said to the AfD: “This is treason against our country. And you commit it every damn day.”

CSU regional group leader Alexander Dobrindt expects similar cases within the AfD. “I’m not at all surprised by this. On the contrary: I don’t assume that this will be the last case in the AfD,” Dobrindt told the Bayern media group. It is becoming increasingly obvious that the AfD maintains questionable contacts not only with Russia, but also with China.

Source: Stern

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