In the third article of his series on Moscow’s influence operations in the West, Igor Eidman says that Putin has established five “fifth columns” in Germany.
In many Western countries, Moscow has used a carrot and stick approach to bring elites into line with its desires, paying off many members of the elites with its enormous and shadowy funds, and threatening others with falsified kompromat in order to frighten the immediate targets and others as well, the Russian sociologist says.
But in no country has this effort gone further than in Germany, Eidman suggests, where Moscow has succeeded in forming “no fewer than five columns of agents of influence.” They include the following:
1. Radical and above all xenophobic groups, often marginal in German society, whose actions exacerbate conflicts within Germany life and even engage in street disorders.
2. Radical and “at the same time to a significant degree pro-Kremlin parliamentary parties like AfD and Die Linke, who contribute to conflicts in the country’s political institutions and thus destabilize Germany’s government.
3. Russian language organizations connected with the Kremlin like the Coordinating Council of Organizations of Russian Compatriots, Die Einheit, Kartina TV and so on. “The support xenophobic forces by helping them intensify the domestic political crisis in the country.”
4. Agents of influence in the political and business elite. They promote Kremlin programs like the Nord Stream 2, and there are today Kremlin “lobbyists in the leadership of all parliamentary parties” in Germany “except for the Greens.”
5. Experts within the academic and think tank worlds and journalists like Gabriele Krone-Smalts and Alexander Rahr. “Their task is to work over public opinion and elites in the spirit of ‘understanding’ Putin and promoting rapprochement with the Kremlin.”
Recruiters and financiers of these columns “are the most odious Putinist oligarchs” like Prigozhin and Malofeyev “and also ‘ideologues’ like Dugin, and of course, the special services, Eidman says. The Russian language column is organized by Russian television, the Russian World foundation, the Russian Foreign Ministry and the special services.
And Eidman adds, “the column of pro-Putin politicians, businessmen and experts are supported” in many cases by more serious and respectable lobbyist organizations like the Deutsch-Russische Wirtschaftsallianz.” But not far below the surface are Chekist officers and groups they control like the infamous Dialogue of Civilizations.
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