Germany’s AfD says lawmaker accused of taking Russian cash denies wrongdoing

By Thomson Reuters Apr 8, 2024 | 5:37 AM

BERLIN (Reuters) – A member of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) has denied any wrongdoing following a media report alleging that he had received money from a pro-Russian media site, the party said on Monday, after demanding that he clarify the matter.

Petr Bystron, a member of the German parliament and an AfD candidate in European Parliament elections set for June, has “vehemently denied” the allegations, an AfD spokesperson told Reuters.

“The party leadership is in favour of a comprehensive investigation and therefore calls on all those who claim to have circumstantial evidence and proof to include it in the investigation,” the spokesperson said.

“At this point in time, the federal leadership (of the party) must assume Mr Bystron’s innocence.”

German magazine Der Spiegel and Czech newspaper Denik N reported that Bystron had received money from the portal Voice of Europe. Late last month, the Czech government sanctioned the operators and backers of the platform due to suspected Russian influence.

The AfD, with 78 of 735 seats in Germany’s parliament, leads polls in several poorer, post-industrial eastern states where its anti-establishment, anti-immigrant stance resonates. It opposes Germany’s backing for Ukraine in the war with Russia.

(Reporting by Andreas Rinke, Writing by Rachel More, Editing by Miranda Murray)