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Office of former employee of AfD MP Maximilian Krah searched

Office of former employee of AfD MP Maximilian Krah searched

Because of possible connections to Russia, investigators have searched several offices of a former employee of AfD politician Maximilian Krah.

Around a week and a half before the European elections, there were further searches in the European Parliament – this time due to suspicion of Russian influence. The Belgian public prosecutor’s office announced this on Wednesday. The AfD’s leading candidate in the European elections, Maximilian Krah, confirmed that the searches in Brussels and Strasbourg were directed against a former employee. The man now works for the Dutch MEP Marcel de Graaff from the extreme right-wing party Forum for Democracy. He expressed his surprise on Wednesday.

Krah wrote on X: “Because it is misunderstood: There was no search today in an office that belongs to me.” The “ex-employee in question has long been working for another member of parliament, where his office was searched.” According to information from Krah’s office, the man worked for the AfD MEP until two years ago.

“Voice of Europe” affair

The Belgian public prosecutor’s office had previously announced that the home and offices of a European Parliament employee in Brussels and Strasbourg had been searched in connection with alleged Russian influence. The searches were carried out as part of a case of influence peddling, passive bribery and membership in a criminal organization, it said.

The public prosecutor’s office also announced that there were indications that the parliamentary employee had played an important role in the affair surrounding the pro-Russian Internet platform “Voice of Europe” (VoE). There were indications of Russian influence, according to which members of the European Parliament were approached and paid to promote Russian propaganda via the “Voice of Europe” website.

“Voice of Europe”, based in Prague, has long been suspected of spreading pro-Russian propaganda in the EU and paying money to European politicians. In mid-May, the platform was banned from broadcasting in the EU.

The portal included interviews with Krah and Petr Bystron – number 2 on the AfD list for the European elections. The Czech newspaper “Denik N” reported at the beginning of April that money may have been transferred in the Bystron case. The AfD member of the Bundestag has repeatedly denied this. Krah also denies having accepted money from anyone associated with “Voice of Europe”.

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Action is directed “primarily against the AfD”

Dutch MEP Marcel de Graaff expressed surprise on Wednesday at the searches of his employee’s home in the European Parliament. He wrote on X that he had learned about the searches of his employee’s home and offices through the media. “I spoke to my employee and he was not informed about it. The authorities have not contacted me or him. This all comes as a complete surprise to me,” the independent MEP continued.

De Graaff vehemently denied involvement in “a so-called Russian disinformation operation”. “I have my own political convictions and I proclaim them. That is my job as a member of the European Parliament,” he wrote. “As far as I can tell, this action by the authorities seems to be directed primarily against the AfD, out of fear of a good election result.” In the European elections next week, the citizens of the 27 EU states will elect a new EU Parliament.

The 62-year-old de Graaff was initially in the European Parliament for the radical right-wing Party for Freedom (PVV) of the Dutch right-wing populist Geert Wilders from 2011 to 2022. In 2022, he switched to the extreme right-wing party Forum for Democracy.

The European Parliament’s spokesperson’s service said it could not comment on ongoing investigations. Parliament is, in principle, cooperating fully with law enforcement and judicial authorities to support the administration of justice and will continue to do so.

Maximilian Krah’s offices had already been searched

The offices of Krah and his former colleague Jian Guo in the European Parliament were also searched at the beginning of May – this was due to espionage for China. Krah’s colleague had previously been arrested on suspicion of espionage for China and taken into custody.

This is not the only reason why Krah and the AfD are under pressure: last week, the ID group in the European Parliament excluded all nine AfD members with immediate effect. The decision referred, among other things, to a “series of incidents in which Mr Maximilian Krah and thus also the German delegation of the group were involved”. These had damaged the group’s reputation.

Previously, Krah’s controversial statements about the SS had sparked sharp criticism. The AfD federal executive board banned Krah from appearing. Krah himself announced that he would not make any further campaign appearances and would resign as a member of the federal executive board.

Note: This article has been updated several times with additional information.

Source: Stern

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