This professor is Putin's favourite German
The Local · 30 Oct 2014, 17:38
Published: 30 Oct 2014 17:38 GMT+01:00
- German jets scrambled to face Russian planes (29 Oct 14)
- German exports to Russia dive by a quarter (29 Oct 14)
- Merkel tells allies to pay Ukraine's gas debts (21 Oct 14)
At least, that's what the number of times he has been cited by Russian news agency TASS - and his double title - might lead you to believe.
Funnily enough, Prof. Prof. Haag's opinions about Russia's relationship to Germany and the West almost always take the Kremlin's side.
“If Warsaw and Prague want to be shields for someone else, they shouldn't forget that spears get thrown at shields,” he told Russian newspaper Izvestia when asked about US plans for a missile shield in Eastern Europe.
“German expert judges Sochi Olympics a turning point in global politics,” another Russian headline read, again quoting the ever-obliging professor - a seeming expert on every subject.
His apparent omniscience made Russian bloggers suspicious, and soon accusations about Haag were doing the rounds on social networks.
However, German media organizations on the trail of Haag have found him a hard man to pin down.
The 62-year-old, who lives in Chemnitz, Saxony, appears to have been built up by Russia's media into a just-convincing-enough figure to slot into coverage of Germany when it needs a pro-Putin boost.
Interviewed by Deutsche Welle, Haag claimed to be a German citizen who had immigrated from Russia 18 years ago.
Attempts by journalists to verify his claim to hold two honorary professorships from universities in the North Caucasus went unanswered.
His first appearance in reports by TASS as head of the Global Communication Agency (AGK) was in 2005, although the Agency itself only appears in the German companies register in 2010.
AGK, which was wound up in May 2014 according to the register, was supposedly headquartered in an unremarkable house in the Berlin suburb of Mahlsdorf.
Welt journalists met the former director of AGK at the house. He claimed to know Haag, but said that he did not remember where or how he had met him.
He had only founded AGK to publish a music newspaper, which he never got around to doing, he claimed.
While Haag is not linked to AGK in the companies register, he did supposedly represent the Moscow Academy for Legal, Security and Defence Questions in Germany.
Photos found online showed him giving a speech to the director of a Swedish gas company at an award ceremony for the Academy in 2008.
But in fact the Academy was founded by Russian agents acting under the orders of Vladimir Putin in 1999, when Putin was head of the Russian FSB secret service, Welt reported.
One of the people it had honoured in the past was Markus Wolf, former head of foreign intelligence for the East German Stasi (secret police).
After Welt reported on the fake institution, it was shut down later in 2008.
Haag later appeared as president of the advisory board of the Chemitz Institute for Economic Innovation.
“He wanted to support our association and German-Russian projects. Those never came to anything, though,” the current president told Welt journalists.
TV journalists from Norddeutsche Rundfunk finally managed to track Haag down via the Cosmonaut Centre in Chemnitz – another of his roles is as a member of the Russian Cosmonautics Federation in Europe, the US and Canada.
The reporters intercepted Haag on the way to his office at the edge of the Saxony city, but he refused to respond to their questions.
Haag wrote that he wanted to do “everything possible to ensure that good relationships were developed between Germany and Russia.”
But the recent media coverage may mean Haag's part in building those good relationships - or convincing the Russian people they are possible - are over.