Pro-Russia AfD delegation in Crimea sparks outrage in Kiev

EPA/ALEXEY NIKOLSKY

People watch a speech by Russian President Vladimir Putin on a screen in central Sevastopol, Crimea, March 18, 2014.

Pro-Russia AfD delegation in Crimea sparks outrage in Kiev


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Ukraine’s prosecutor general has launched a criminal case against a group of far-right German politicians made an illegal visit to Crimea.

According to the case filed against them, the delegation of German lawmakers are from Alternative for Germany (known in German as Alternative fur Deutschland, or AfD). They are the third largest party in the Bundestag and are reportedly in Crimea until February 9.

The delegation, which comprises regional parliament members of Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia, Berlin, and Baden-Wurttemberg states, arrived in Crimea on February 3 to discuss the removal of Western sanctions and the recognition of the strategic Black Sea peninsula as part of Russia.

Members of the delegation said they were unconcerned by Kiev’s criticism and a possible travel ban in Ukraine.

“We don’t care at all. We expect to visit Crimea in the future,” said Roger Beckamp, a member of the State Parliament of North Rhine Westphalia.

According to Russia’s state-run propaganda network Sputnik, Beckamp told his Crimean hosts, “You have determined your future. The referendum is what you did; something we do not have in Germany…we honestly envy you.”

The politician also thanked the Moscow-installed Crimean authorities for taking care of the military cemeteries where German soldiers who died in WWII are buried.

State Parliament of Berlin member Hugh Bronson said that the German lawmakers hope that “the situation will be settled in the future and normal relations with Ukraine will be restored.”

The delegation’s visit follows that of prominent AfD member, Alexander Gauland, who called Crimea an “indigenously Russian territory.”

In Germany’s 2017 parliamentary elections, AfD made closer ties to Russia one of its top priorities and campaigned aggressively in districts with a high concentration of Russian speakers. Kremlin-controlled Russian state media provided favourable coverage of AfD’s campaigning and provided the party’s leaders with a media platform in Germany’s Russian-speaking community.

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