Frauke Petry, co-leader of the anti-mass migration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, visited several Russian allies of President Vladimir Putin in Moscow this week to forge ties with the Russian government.
According to reports, Ms Petry visited several prominent politicians from the Russian parliament including members of President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party. Petry had been invited to Moscow to build ties between the Russian government and the regional assemblies of Germany where the AfD now has many members Deutsche Welle reports.
Petry met with State Duma Deputy Speaker Pyotr Tolstoy and Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, both members of United Russia and close personal allies of Putin. Volodin is Putin’s former chief of staff and enjoys enormous influence in the Russian government. Tolstoy, a former journalist and television presenter, is the great-great-grandson of famous Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy and is also a key ally of Putin.
The Duma released a statement on the visit saying, “During the meeting they discussed issues of cooperation between regional parliaments, inter-party cooperation, as well as the development of contacts for youth organisations.”
The meeting was also attended by Vladimir Zhirinovsky leader of the populist-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia who has been a fierce supporter of the annexation of Crimea and the Kremlin’s bombing of rebels and Islamic State fighters in Syria, “Russia is halting World War III,” he said.
Zhirinovsky has also been a keen supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump and warned before the election that Hillary Clinton could start a nuclear war and that Americans were better off voting for Trump.
It is not known who else in the AfD was also part of the delegation, but the visit is not the first time a populist party in Europe has reached out to forge ties with Russia.
In December the Austrian anti-mass migration Freedom Party travelled sent a delegation consisting of both its leader Heinz-Christian Strache and former presidential candidate Norbert Hofer. The delegation signed a cooperation agreement with United Russia and had tried to forge ties with the U.S. administration as well.
During his presidential campaign, Norbert Hofer said that he wanted to see Austria act as a go-between for Russia and the United States in order mend relations and lift the current economic sanctions that he felt would help the Austrian economy.
French presidential candidate and leader of the Front National Marine Le Pen has also maintained close ties to Russia to the extent that her opponent Emmanuel Macron has accused Russia of trying to hack his campaign to help the anti-mass migration candidate.
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