• Germany's news in English
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
Germany says 'won't let anyone take Europe from us'
Steinmeier called the European Union “a successful project of peace and stability”. Photo: DPA

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Saturday that the EU would weather the shock of the British vote to leave the union as he convened crisis talks.

Brexit vote
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
A sign in Berlin's tech giant and startup-building company Rocket Internet. Photo: DPA.

London is currently thought of as the main hub for startups in Europe, but that will all turn around when the UK leaves the EU, tech industry experts say.

Brexit vote - Analysis
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
British Leave campaigners celebrate Brexit result. Photo: DPA

Britain leaving the EU means trouble ahead for Germany - and its hardest task will be convincing the Brits to drop a self-defeating ideology, a leading foreign policy expert told The Local.

How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Photo: DPA.

Considering a change of passport after the UK's vote to ditch the EU? Here’s how to do it.

Germany makes fracking verboten
A sign in North Rhine-Westphalia. Photo: DPA.

German lawmakers approved a law that essentially bans fracking, ending years of dispute over the controversial technology to release oil and gas locked deep underground.

Brexit vote
German far right 'cries for joy' after UK votes to leave EU
Left to right: AfD's Beatrix von Storch and Frauke Petry. Photo: DPA

The far-right AfD party called for a "new Europe" and the resignation of the EU's top two politicians in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Brexit vote
Merkel: Brexit has cut into European unity
Angela Merkel at a press conference after the Brexit vote on Friday. Photo: DPA.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday that the UK's decision to leave the EU has created a "cut in Europe" and the project of European unity.

Couple copulating on bridge shut down Autobahn
Kaiserlei Bridge in Frankfurt. Photo: Dontworry / Wikimedia Commons.

It was a highly unusual choice of location for a romantic rendezvous, police in Frankfurt point out.

Brexit vote
Germany: Brexit vote is a 'sad day for Europe'
A British flag along with other flags of European Union member countries flies in front of the European Council building in Strasbourg, France. Photo: EPA.

Top German leaders declared that it was a "sad day for Europe" after British voters opted to leave the European Union.

Viernheim hostage-taker wasn't carrying lethal weapon
A police officer stands guard in front of the cinema in Viernheim. Photo: DPA

The 19-year-old German man who took over a dozen people hostage in a cinema in western Germany on Thursday was carrying replica weapons, prosecutors have confirmed.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Sponsored Article
US expats: Taxes are due June 15th
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
7 photos which show the aftermath of Bavaria's Autobahn bridge collapse
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
How to sound like an expert on German football this summer
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
6 reasons Germany's summer is unbeatable for thrill-seekers
The future belongs to these 10 German regions
How pictures of footballers on chocolates made Pegida really mad
New father's tragic herpes warning touches 1000s online
Bayer's Monsanto takeover would be 'diabolical': environmentalists
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd