• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Putin is trying to destabilize Germany, spy chiefs warn
Vladimir Putin. Photo: DPA

Putin is trying to destabilize Germany, spy chiefs warn

The Local · 10 Mar 2016, 10:59

Published: 10 Mar 2016 10:59 GMT+01:00
Updated: 10 Mar 2016 10:59 GMT+01:00

The meeting, which took place in February with members of the Bundestag control committee, was attended by Hans-Georg Maaßen, head of the Verfassungsschutz (internal intelligence) and Guido Müller, deputy head of the Bundesnachrichtendienst (foreign intelligence).

The top spies warned there was a particular danger that Moscow would exploit the "high mobilisation potential" of Germany’s Russian community, which numbers at around 2 million.

Evidence suggests this section of the population is easily influenced by Russia into demonstrating on German streets, the spy chiefs claimed.

In January, thousands of Germans of Russian descent went onto the streets - including demonstrating in front of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office, the Kanzleramt - after Russian state media reported that immigrants had kidnapped and raped a 13-year-old Russian girl.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov also waded into the argument at the time, accusing Berlin police of covering the incident up.

Evidence collected by German prosecutors contradicted the girl's story and revealed that the girl had actually spent the when she was reported missing at a friend’s house.

The intelligence services say they are now observing the activities of members of organisations representing the Russian-speaking community.

Another strategy the spy chiefs say Moscow is using involves interviews with Russians on state television who have allegedly left Germany because "it is no longer safe" due to the influx of over a million refugees.

Speaking to The Local in January, Alexander Clarkson, lecturer in German and European Studies at King's College London, said that anti-German propaganda also has an internal function.

"By portraying Germany as a society in chaos because of migration, where Russian speakers are threatened, the Kremlin propaganda machinery projects the image to the Russian public that things are as bad 'over there' in the EU as in Russia," Clarkson said.

Relations between Moscow and Berlin are at their most bitter since the end of the Cold War.

Merkel was instrumental in organizing European sanctions against leading Russian businessmen and financial institutions after Moscow illegally annexed the Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

Story continues below…

Although Putin and Merkel are said to have kept in close contact over the Ukraine crisis, the sanctions have in part contributed to a tumbling in the value of the Russian rouble.

Conflicting interests in the Middle East have also heightened tensions.

In February, Merkel backed a Turkish call for a no-fly zone over Syria, drawing an angry response from Russia which was assisting the Syrian government offensive in the north of the country with air support.

Germany and Russia have however worked together recently on agreeing a ceasefire in the war-torn country.

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Today's headlines
Raging ticket controller seizes Chinese traveler's passport
File photo of a plainclothes ticket controller. Photo: DPA.

Germany's national rail operator is in hot water after a ticket controller reacted aggressively to a newly arrived Chinese traveler who made one of the most basic transit mistakes: forgetting to stamp her ticket.

Berlin politician crusades for health of skateboarding dog
File photo: DPA

Can a canine enjoy skateboarding? That's the question Berlin politicians are struggling to address in a row over a dog on four wheels.

Police hunt Brits who Hitler-saluted in concentration camp
Buchenwald. Photo: DPA

Authorities in Germany are searching for two British men who took a picture of themselves performing a Nazi salute in a torture chamber in Buchenwald concentration camp.

Far-right tries to lure voters with own-brand gummy bears

Germany's far-right party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD), have come up with an unusual marketing strategy on their website.

How your boss can still pay lower than the minimum wage
A protest in front of the Chancellery in 2013. Photo: DPA

German workers are disappointed about the first-ever court ruling on the country's year-old minimum wage law.

'Shit show' Berlin airport
Plan to open Berlin airport in 2017 finally (inevitably) dead
Passengers won't be walking beneath Willy Brandt's name in lights any time soon. Photo: DPA

Travellers are set to wait still longer for Berlin's much-delayed new airport to open, as city media report that a provisional opening date in late 2017 is no longer achievable.

Hero bin man saves child from 2nd storey plunge
Bogdan W. (r) with four-year-old Eden. Photo: DPA

A young boy had a miraculous rescue in western Germany on Wednesday when a bin man happened to see him hanging from the window ledge and managed to catch him just in time.

Church hides refugees from state in Bavarian beauty spot
The view near Tutzing on Lake Starnberg. Photo: DPA

The Catholic Church in southern Bavaria is offering religious asylum to refugees who fled Isis, and who the state now wants to deport.

German firm fights years-long battle to crack Rubik's Cube
Photo: DPA

A German toy manufacturer is nearing success in its long battle to be able to make a Rubik's Cube all of its own.

The Local List
13 (even more) thrilling facts you must know about Berlin
Berlin, du bist so wunderbar. Photo: DPA.

Berlin is just so gosh darn interesting, we couldn't fit it all into the first list on our website of infinite virtual space.

Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
Society
Pegida enraged by black children on chocolate bars
Health
New father's tragic herpes warning touches 1000s online
National
Monsanto takeover would be 'diabolical': environmentalists
Lifestyle
10 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
Politics
MP recites explicit Erdogan bestiality poem on live TV
National
China beats Germany in readiness to help refugees
Hamburg
Headless Lübeck corpse turns out to be discarded sex doll
National
Pensioner claims to have found hidden Nazi nukes
Business & Money
Here's why Munich is worth 20 times more than Berlin
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that will stay with you forever
Technology
Church plans to connect with faithful at Wi-Fi 'Godspots'
Technology
Online hate speech can cost users thousands of Euros
Society
Bavarians in rush for non-lethal weapons licenses
Sport
Here's Germany's Mannschaft for Euro 2016
Culture
The Syrian pianist playing his way into Germans' hearts
The parrot who flew fast enough to trigger a speed camera
Technology
New law could let free Wi-Fi bloom across Germany
Politics
Berlin's plans to beef up the German army
Sport
Lufthansa's Euro 2016 ad takes aim at England
National
Supermarkets must pay massive fine for fixing beer prices
National
4/20: Five things to know about weed in Germany
Berlin
Police break up hipster swarm at vegan restaurant opening
7,775
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd