The AfD leadership had someting to talk about on Monday morning. EPA-EFE/CLEMENS BILAN


AfD backs MEP candidate Bystron over bribery denials in ‘Russian influence scandal’


Petr Bystron, a German Bundestag MP and number two on the AfD’s European Parliament June 9 election list, has told his party he categorically denies bribery allegations against him.

Speaking with the AfD board via telephone on April 8, Bystron assured the committee that he had never accepted money in connection with a suspected Russian disinformation campaign.

After hearing his defence on the conference call, the AfD leadership supported the MP, according to sources at the German news agency dpa.

“At this point in time, the federal executive must assume the innocence of Mr Bystron,” read a joint statement by party chairpersons Alice Weidel and Tino Chrupalla.

The AfD urged anyone with circumstantial evidence or proof to come forward and participate in an ongoing inquiry.

Its leadership has joined his demand for the release of what has been reported are Czech intelligence service recordings allegedly implicating MPs and others in bribery.

“I didn’t expect anything else. We will not allow our election campaign to be dictated to by manipulative accusations by foreign intelligence services,” Bystron is quoted by German media as saying after the call.

He stated that he and the party had mutually agreed to gather information ahead of possible further legal steps.

Bystron asserted that, if evidence of him or anyone else receiving bribery money did not surface promptly, it would demonstrate an ongoing “political manoeuvre by an intelligence service against the AfD”.

He added that the Czech Government must now explain whether publication of the accusations against him was made under pressure from abroad and what role NATO and the German Government may have played in such.

Moreover, he announced that his legal team would seek access to documents in Munich, where the public prosecutor’s office has launched a preliminary investigation citing “current reporting” to support its establishment.

When the public prosecutor launched the probe, it was made clear any findings could not be used to confirm an initial suspicion. Such preliminary inquiries are not regulated by law and are merely recorded as a matter of routine.

The conclusion of the AfD board is in line with comments made by its European Parliament election list leader Maximilian Krah MEP speaking to Brussels Signal during a recent exclusive interview.

Czech intelligence services have accused politicians of accepting payments from a Russian influence operation, according to Czech and German media.

The Czech Security Information Service (BIS) told its Government that a Russian network was trying to influence the upcoming Parliament elections through a propaganda website based in Prague, Deník N and Der Spiegel reported March 28.

In particular, Bystron was allegedly suspected of receiving money either in cash or via cryptocurrency. The Czech newspaper Deník N reported on what was was claimed was the existence of audio recordings that could potentially substantiate these accusations although they have not been corroborated.

German news agency Der Spiegel noted that a BIS spokesperson had already said the service would not release the apparent audio recordings.