Three AfD MPs set out for eastern Ukraine, and now they are apparently breaking off their trip. The action also caused a lot of trouble within the party.
BERLIN taz | From the grandiose announcements made by the three AfD MPs when announcing their Travel to the Russian-occupied territories in Donbass made, there is little left in the end. In one of the emails available to the taz, one of you, Christian Blex, member of the state parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia, crawls to the cross: "Dear federal executive board, since I am the only member of parliament who currently has internet access, I would like to inform you of the joint decision of the three of us that we will no longer travel further to the Donbass.”
Blex sent the mail on Tuesday evening, after there was not only a lot of public criticism, but the non-arranged trip also caused trouble within the AfD. Further details on the cancellation of the trip were not yet available on Wednesday morning. Whether the trip to Russia will be canceled completely or only to eastern Ukraine remains open. At the request of the taz, the federal executive board initially did not comment further.
Together with the members of the state parliament Hans-Thomas Tillschneider and Thomas Wald from Saxony-Anhalt, Blex announced on Monday that wanting to travel to the Donbass via Russia - and combined with the usual pro-Russian scolding of western media.
The trip came as a complete surprise to the national board and the state board of North Rhine-Westphalia. The federal board around the co-chairs Tino Chrupalla and Alice Weidel demanded clarification about the trip and distanced itself. "We do not support this trip," Chrupalla said. the The NRW parliamentary group disapproved of the trip even, demanded its immediate termination and reserved disciplinary consequences for Blex. The AfD faction in Saxony-Anhalt alone does not seem to have bothered much with the criticism so far.
Höcke confidants on tour
The tour group consists of confidants of the right-wing extremist Bjorn Höcke. Last weekend, Tillschneider, Wald and Höcke celebrated together organized by the AfD Saalfeld in Schnellroda historical revisionist "Prussian Festival" - it's quite possible that Thuringia boss Höcke was privy to the travel plans.
The non-arranged trip shows once again that the authority of Chrupalla and Weidel is undermined by the völkisch current. The Höcke-loyal Federal board member Christina Baum then described the matter on ZDF as "blown up": "I don't understand the excitement about the trip."
Russia would have liked to use the AfD MPs more extensively for propaganda purposes. At the time of the trip it fits that on Tuesday in the occupied short-term "referendums' were announced about the annexation to Russia. It wouldn't be the first time that AfD politicians have turned themselves into Putin's propaganda assistants - in the past, MPs from the extreme right-wing party have traveled to Russia as pseudo-election assistants on several occasions former member of parliament Ulrich Oehme even to the annexed Crimea.
The party leaders Chrupalla and Weidel have already been courted in Moscow and are now demanding the opening of Nord Stream 2 and the lifting of sanctions. On Tuesday evening, Weidel was allowed in the ARD-Talk show "Maischberger" claim that Putin is not a dictator and mass murderer. It is not the first timethat AfDler*innen participate in the spread of Russian disinformation.
"You can call that a stab in the back"
The announced Donbass trip was particularly bad in Lower Saxony, where the state elections are on October 9th. The Lower Saxon State Vice Ansgar Schledde said, he was stunned and called the trip "damaging to the party": "You can call it a stab in the back or sabotage. That harms us in Lower Saxony and I believe that they consciously accept it.” Schleswig-Holstein was similarly upset when, shortly before the election, Höcke once again brought up his possible candidacy for the federal executive board – and the AfD from the state parliament flew.