FBI questions German right-wing politician over Russian money: Report

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The far-right AfD’s leading candidate for the European Parliament elections, Maximilian Krah, has been questioned by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) about possible payments from pro-Russian patrons, according to a German media report. The questioning took place in December 2023 in the US before Krah’s return trip to Germany after a Young Republicans event in New York, Der Spiegel reported on Tuesday, citing information shared with German public broadcaster ZDF.

When asked by dpa news agency, Krah said: “I was questioned as a witness about my contacts in Ukraine, yes. I have provided information accordingly.” According to research by Der Spiegel and ZDF, the US investigators were allegedly suspicious of a chat message in which a pro-Russian activist assured that a problem with the “compensation” for Krah’s “technical expenses” had been resolved. From May onwards, “things will be as they were before February.”

The wording suggested that Krah may have been paid covertly for some time, the report added. The authorities were now investigating this. Krah further said that he had never concealed his contacts with the pro-Russian activist and that they could be found on his Instagram account. “The accusations are absurd and fabricated,” Krah added. Der Spiegel quoted Krah as saying that he had not received any money, “no payments, monetary benefits or other compensation” from the activist.

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The activist may have wanted to pay him back money for an opera ball ticket, he said. Or, he suggested, the chat message, which spoke of “compensation,” must have been intended for a different recipient. Krah’s name has also appeared in connection with the pro-Russian internet platform Voice of Europe (VoE). At the end of March, the Czech Republic placed VoE on its national sanctions list following an intelligence investigation.

The website was said to be part of a Russian influence operation aimed at jeopardising the territorial integrity, sovereignty and freedom of Ukraine. Interviews with AfD politician Petr Bystron and Krah were published on the portal. The Czech newspaper Denik N had reported that Bystron may also have accepted money. The AfD parliamentarian has repeatedly denied this. According to Der Spiegel, Krah also denies having accepted money from VoE. The European Parliament elections are scheduled for June 6-9.