Far-right German lawmaker dismisses Russian interference allegations

A lawmaker from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), Petr Bystron, has been asked by his party to address allegations in a Czech newspaper connecting him with Russian propaganda and disinformation campaigns.

The Czech newspaper Denik N reported, citing intelligence sources, that Bystron is suspected of having been in contact with the pro-Russian propaganda platform “Voice of Europe,” which has alleged ties to Russian intelligence agencies. The report alleged that he may also have accepted money.

The newspaper reported on the existence of an audio recording that allegedly incriminates Bystron, and also that Bystron’s name was discussed at a meeting of Czech Cabinet ministers last week where the Czech-registered platform and its backers were placed under sanctions, citing multiple ministers as sources.

Bystron is a member of Germany’s parliament. He is also second on the AfD’s list of candidates for the upcoming European Parliament elections.

The reports are merely “unproven accusations and allegations,” Bystron told dpa on Wednesday.

He added: “The Czech secret service should finally publish the alleged recordings so that there is clarity.”

Bystron has been asked by the AfD’s national co-chairs to submit a written statement on the allegations by Thursday.

The newspaper quoted an unnamed Czech government minister as saying: “We were given information that Bystron was a suspect. And the proof is supposed to be audio recordings.”

Another member of the government, who did not want to be named, told the newspaper that the head of the Czech Republic’s domestic intelligence service BIS, Michal Koudelka, confirmed that they had documented Bystron.

That unnamed government official said the recording was not played at the meeting, but that Koudalka told the ministers, “It’s about the sound. You can prove the handing over of money as audio.”

Pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk, an associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was allegedly involved in the “Voice of Europe” scheme.

Among other things, the “Voice of Europe” website had distributed interviews with Bystron as well as Maximilian Krah, the AfD’s top candidate in the European Parliament election campaign.

Bystron told dpa that it was understandable and correct for his AfD colleagues to request first-hand information in view of the media reports.

Bystron told dpa that he anticipates meeting with AfD leadership in the near future “in peace and quiet to discuss everything.”

Bystron emphasized: “I have nothing to reproach myself with.”

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