• 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
 'One dead and two injured' in Germany machete attack
News channel NTV said there were scenes of panic in the city centre following the attack. Photo: DPA

A 21-year-old Syrian asylum-seeker killed a woman and injured two people with a machete Sunday in the southwest German city of Reutlingen in an incident local police said did not bear the hallmarks of a "terrorist attack".

Munich gunman planned attacks for one year: officials
Vigils continue in Munich to commemorate the victims, seven of whom were teenagers. Photo: DPA

The teenage gunman who killed nine people in Munich on Friday had been planning his attack for a year, according to German authorities.

Germany grapples with enigma of Munich gunman
A debate is already underway as to whether Germany's gun laws, which are already strict, should be tightened further. Photo: AFP

Investigators were seeking clues on Sunday into the mind of gunman David Ali Sonboly, the teen author of one of Germany's bloodiest killing sprees.

Munich shooting
 Social media a blessing and a curse in Munich shooting
The Munich gunman may have hacked a Facebook account to lure some of the victims to the McDonald's fast-food outlet where the shooting began. Photo: DPA

Social networks were both a curse and a blessing in the deadly shopping mall shooting in Munich, as police sometimes found themselves chasing fictitious leads and false alarms.

Munich shooting
Munich pulls together after shopping mall shooting
Photo: DPA

In the chaos after the Munich mall shooting, city residents spontaneously offered shelter to strangers - a move that Chancellor Angela Merkel said showed that Germany's strength lies in its values.

Munich shooting
Merkel deplores 'night of horror' in Munich
Photo: DPA

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday said Munich had suffered a "night of horror" after a shooting spree in the southern German city left nine people dead.

Munich shooting
Munich attacker was shy video game fan
People laying flowers at the site of the shootings. Photo: DPA.

David Ali Sonboly was a quiet, helpful teenager who loved playing video games. His neighbours say there were no warning signs before his deadly rampage at a Munich shopping mall.

Munich shooting
Munich gunman inspired by rightwing Breivik: police
Photo: DPA

The lone teenager who shot dead nine people in a gun rampage in Munich was "obsessed" with mass killers such as Norwegian rightwing fanatic Anders Behring Breivik and had no links to the Islamic State group, police said Saturday.

Munich shooting
Turks, Kosovans and a Greek among shooting victims
Photo: DPA

Three Turkish citizens were among the nine people killed in Germany's Munich mall shooting. Three Kosovans were also among the nine victims.

Munich shooting
Munich gunman was likely not Isis terrorist: police
Flowers laid at the Olympia Shopping Centre underground station. Photo: DPA

According to initial investigations by Munich police, the young man who went on a shooting rampage in Munich on Friday evening was a lone gunman without motive, not a terrorist.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Analysis & Opinion
Nice was an attack on France, not on Germany
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
National
Bavaria train attack: Were police right to shoot to kill?
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Travel
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
National
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
Culture
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
National
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Lifestyle
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Society
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Lifestyle
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
Culture
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Lifestyle
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
Features
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
10,782
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd