Vladimir Sergienko, a Ukrainian-born advisor to a German lawmaker from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, is allegedly working with Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), according to an investigation released on Feb. 1 by the independent Russian media outlet The Insider.
Founded in 2013, AfD is increasingly gaining ground in Germany, becoming one of the largest far-right parties in Europe. AfD is perhaps best known in the West for its hardline anti-immigration stance, but it also has sought rapprochement with Russia even before the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and some AfD figures have since continued to visit Russia.
In collaboration with the German newspaper Der Spiegel, The Insider alleged that Sergienko has been in direct communication with an FSB officer named Ilya Vechtomov, citing leaked emails and other documents.
Sergienko works as an aide to Bundestag AfD member Eugen Schmidt, where he helps write speeches for Schmidt and other AfD lawmakers. In his public capacity, Sergienko reportedly “took direct actions aimed at hampering Ukraine’s defensive efforts, and he took them at his FSB handler’s request.”
Such actions allegedly include the filing of a lawsuit against the German government to delay security assistance to Ukraine and writing a letter to Pope Francis about the supposed “persecution of Christians in Ukraine.”
There is no evidence to support the claim of Christians being persecuted by the Ukrainian government, but faith leaders have accused Russian forces and their proxies of discriminating and otherwise persecuting religious groups in occupied regions of Ukraine.
The Insider wrote that Sergienko personally confirmed he was at risk of losing his German citizenship after it was reportedly revealed he lied about renouncing his Russian passport, saying instead he only held Ukrainian citizenship.
Read also: Rise of Germany’s AfD signals growing support for pro-Russian policies
The disclosure is The Insider’s second such potentially damning finding of lawmakers in Europe being allegedly affiliated with Russian intelligence services within the last week.
The Insider wrote on Jan. 29 that Tatjana Zdanoka, a long-serving member of the European Parliament from Latvia, is allegedly an FSB agent. A spokesperson for the parliament announced an official investigation into Zdanoka’s activities the following day.
As with Zdanoka, Sergienko’s pro-Russian sentiments were no secret. The Insider wrote that Sergienko appeared on Russian television to advocate for Ukraine’s surrender and also spread a variety of unfounded conspiracy theories, including that Germany was plotting to assassinate President Volodymyr Zelensky.
He also allegedly visited Russia 18 times since the beginning of the full-scale invasion.
Schmidt responded to Der Spiegel’s request for comment, writing that he could not address the allegations about Sergienko because they were “without substance.”
Sergienko also refuted the investigation’s results, telling The Insider, “The accusations, according to which I am an agent of influence for Moscow, are unfounded and do not reflect reality.”
Read also: Investigation: Latvian member of European Parliament allegedly Russian agent
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