Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov Hosts German Far-Right AfD Party

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov hosted a delegation from the far-right German party, Alternative for Germany, or AfD, in the highest-level reception the anti-immigrant group has received so far in Moscow.

Lavrov accused the German government of trying to complicate the visit while itself holding contacts with Russian opposition figures. Given the difficult relations between the two nations, Russia supports dialog at all levels with Germany, especially with those counterparts that “want to overcome existing problems,” he said at Tuesday’s meeting.

The Foreign Ministry in Berlin said Monday the delegation led by AfD co-chair Tino Chrupalla, at the invitation of the Russian State Duma, the lower house of parliament, was a routine visit organized by the Bundestag.

Tensions have surged in recent months between Germany and Russia over the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny. He’s recovering in Germany after a near-fatal nerve-agent attack on him in Siberia in August that he’s blamed on the Kremlin. The European Union in October sanctioned six senior Russian officials over the use of the banned Novichok chemical weapon, weeks after German Chancellor Angela Merkel met Navalny in hospital.

Russia has maintained relations with various far-right and far-left forces in Europe including France’s Marine Le Pen, who met President Vladimir Putin on a visit to Moscow in 2017 and whose party has received Russian-backed loans.

While Le Pen has gained in opinion polls amid public anger over French President Emmanuel Macron’s handling of the coronavirus epidemic ahead of 2022 elections, the AfD has seen its support slip with Germans broadly satisfied by Merkel’s actions to combat the health crisis.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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