German AfD Politician Petr Bystron Suspected of Receiving Russian Payments

The European Parliament raises alarm over alleged Russian interference in the 2024 EU elections, with evidence of payments to far-right MEPs to spread propaganda and undermine security across Europe.

Trim Correspondents
New Update
German AfD Politician Petr Bystron Suspected of Receiving Russian Payments

German AfD Politician Petr Bystron Suspected of Receiving Russian Payments

The European Parliament has expressed grave concern over new allegations of Russian interference in the upcoming 2024 EU elections. Investigations have uncovered evidence suggesting that a network of influence, allegedly financed by the Russian government, has been operating through a Prague-based news site called Voice of Europe. The site is suspected of paying 16 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from various right-wing and far-right parties to spread Russian propaganda and undermine security across Europe.

Among those implicated is Petr Bystron, a candidate for the European elections and a member of the German Bundestag from the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party. Audio recordings have surfaced confirming the payment of money of Russian origin to Bystron. The Polish counter-espionage services have also recovered large sums of cash in relation to the case.

Investigations into the activities of the suspected MEPs have been launched in several member states, including Belgium, France, and Germany. The European Parliament has called for vigilance against any attempts by non-EU countries, particularly Russia, to unduly influence its democratic processes. It has emphasized the importance of maintaining trust in the integrity and rule of law of the institution.

Why this matters: The allegations of Russian interference in the EU elections underscore the ongoing threat to democratic processes posed by foreign actors. The involvement of elected officials in spreading misinformation and propaganda raises serious concerns about the integrity of European politics and the need for robust measures to counter foreign influence operations.

The European Parliament has passed a resolution expressing outrage over the allegations, noting that the spread of disinformation, hacking of candidates' devices, and cyberattacks on election infrastructure have risen to unprecedented levels. The resolution highlights that funding from outside the EU of political activities and politicians within the European Union poses a significant risk to the integrity of democratic processes, particularly ahead of the 2024 European elections.

The Parliament has called for effective investigations into these matters and for measures to defend democracy against foreign interference. It cites evidence that Petr Bystron allegedly accepted €25,000 from a pro-Russian network, with payments made in cash or via cryptocurrency. As the investigation progresses, the European Parliament remains committed to safeguarding the integrity of its democratic processes and protecting against any undue influence from foreign actors.

Key Takeaways

  • EU Parliament expresses concern over Russian interference in 2024 elections
  • Alleged network of influence, financed by Russia, operating through Prague news site
  • 16 MEPs from right-wing parties suspected of spreading Russian propaganda
  • Petr Bystron, AfD candidate, implicated in receiving €25,000 from pro-Russian network
  • Investigations launched in several EU states, Parliament calls for measures against foreign interference