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Media: Pro-Russian Bundestag aide unmasked as FSB asset

A German MP’s aide sought over 90,000 euros from his FSB handler to finance legal efforts to limit German arms transfers to Ukraine, a journalistic investigation shows.
Pro-Russian Bundestag aide Sergienko. Photo: The Insider

Vladimir Sergienko, a 52-year-old senior aide to far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) legislator Eugen Schmidt, has been revealed to be an agent of Russian intelligence handling clandestine tasks aimed at stymying Western military support for Ukraine, according to a joint investigation by The Insider and Der Spiegel. This latest case adds to growing revelations of Russian intelligence penetration into European politics.

Sergienko’s handler at Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has been identified as officer Ilya Vechtomov, an active member of the FSB’s foreign intelligence arm known as the Fifth Service, tasked with collecting intelligence on Ukraine.

“The Fifth Service seeks to undermine Western trust in Ukraine and to prevent by all possible means the flow of weapons to our country,” former director of Ukraine’s military and foreign intelligence services, General Valerii Kondratyuk, told The Insider.

According to the investigation, leaked emails and travel records reveal Ukrainian-born Sergienko worked closely with Vechtomov to obstruct German security assistance to Ukraine, including battlefield weapons like Leopard 2 tanks.

“The government’s work will be hindered. This situation is advantageous for us because the tanks will either be delivered much later than planned or a court injunction will be imposed,” Sergienko wrote to Vechtomov about legal efforts to block the tanks. “To maintain these actions, we need the following: approval, media support, financial support.”

Sergienko sought 93,000 euros from his handler “to prepare the lawsuit,” telling Vechtomov it would require 25,000 euros per month for legal fees. The AfD parliamentary group subsequently appealed to Germany’s highest court to halt all military assistance to Ukraine.

Among Sergienko’s other Russian-directed activities was drafting a letter decrying a persecution of Christians in Ukraine to be sent under the names of AfD politicians to Pope Francis.

Germany has reacted by revoking Sergienko’s citizenship and suspending his access to parliament after discovering his valid Russian passport. But Sergienko continues to insist the espionage allegations are unfounded.

“The Russian intelligence services continue to view Europe as their playground. Germany in particular has to up its counterintelligence game,” said former CIA Europe operations chief Marc Polymeropolous.

The AfD party was founded in 2013. As of January 2024, it had 20% nationwide support, transforming from an insignificant opposition party into the largest pro-Russian far-right party in Europe. In late 2022, the party’s representatives announced a trip to Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine to get their “own picture of the situation,” but canceled in the wake of public backlash. Bundestag has no consensus on how to neutralize the dangerous far-right, with debates on cutting its funds.

Previously, Europarliament launched an investigation into Latvian MEP Tatjana Ždanoka who has been allegedly working for FSB for at least 15 years following The Insider’s report.

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