Pro-Kremlin activist couple quit Germany, move to Russia

By Thomson Reuters Jun 3, 2024 | 8:08 AM

LONDON (Reuters) – Two pro-Russian activists in Germany, whose ties to the Kremlin were revealed in a Reuters investigation last year, have left Germany and moved to Russia, the couple’s lawyer said in a statement on Monday.

Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Elena Kolbasnikova and her romantic partner Max Schlund have been active in Germany, organising pro-Kremlin rallies to urge Berlin to abandon its military support to Kyiv.

The Reuters investigation last year identified them as among key individuals pushing a pro-Moscow stance in Germany and revealed that they had received financial help from a Russian government agency.

The couple’s home in north-west Germany was raided last August by German prosecutors following a Reuters report that funds collected from supporters in Germany were used to buy walkie-talkie radios, headphones and telephones for a Russian army division fighting in Ukraine.

Markus Beisicht, their lawyer, said the pair had left Germany and were currently in the Russian city of Kaliningrad.

The pair lost jobs, were evicted from their apartment and were subject to “countless” criminal investigations in Germany, Beisicht said in a statement shared on the Telegram channel of the right-wing political party he represents.

“They say that they can no longer live in Germany as Russian citizens due to the serious Russophobia,” Beisicht said. German criminal proceedings against the pair are ongoing, but the couple believed they had complied with the law, he added.

German prosecutors did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a June 2 post on their joint Telegram channel, Schlund and Kolbasnikova posed in front of the camera and rejoiced at re-locating to Russia.

They said that in Russia gender roles were clearly defined, homosexuality was not promoted, and it was possible to eat an affordable meal at a restaurant. “What do you have left, poor Europe?” their post said.

(Reporting by Mari Saito; Editing by Christian Lowe and Gareth Jones)