AfD MP’s offices raided over bribery probe

by orderketozenseacv

German police have raided the offices of a leading member of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party over money-laundering and bribery allegations.

MP Petr Bystron is accused of receiving money from Russia in return for influence – something he denies.

Thursday’s raids were carried out in a number of locations, including Munich, Mallorca and the MP’s parliamentary office in Berlin.

Almost 70 police officers and 11 state prosecutors were involved.

Czech intelligence services reportedly have audio recordings in which, according to officials who have heard the tape, Mr Bystron is heard rustling and counting €20,000 (£17,000) given to him by a pro-Kremlin Ukrainian businessman.

The Bundestag, Germany’s parliament, has agreed to lift Mr Bystron’s parliamentary immunity to allow for criminal proceedings against him.

“So far, no proof has been presented for the allegations raised against Mr Bystron weeks ago,” AfD leaders Alice Weidel and Tino Chrupalla said in a joint statement on Thursday.

“The AfD hopes the investigation will be concluded swiftly to avoid creating the suspicion that this is an attempt to use authorities and prosecutors to influence the European election campaign.”

Mr Bystron is the party’s number two candidate for next month’s European Parliament elections.

Another of the AfD’s lead candidates, Maximilian Krah, is currently being investigated for alleged payments from Russia and China, but denies any wrongdoing.

Mr Krah’s long-standing aide was recently arrested, accused of spying for Beijing.

The alleged involvement of the two politicians in suspected crimes comes as the AfD tries to detoxify its image and appeal to wavering voters.

The party has been slipping recently in polls from the low 20s earlier this year to about 16%.

This could in part be because of mass anti-AfD protests across the country, after it was revealed that party officials had attended a secret meeting where the deportation of people with non-German heritage was discussed.

Other scandals may also be denting support.

On Wednesday, Björn Höcke – who leads the AfD in the state of Thuringia – was found guilty of knowingly using a Nazi slogan in a speech.

Days earlier, a court ruled that the party was officially suspected of extremism – meaning intelligence services can continue to monitor its activities and communications.

Lawyers for the AfD have said they will appeal against this ruling.

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