No less important for the Russian wing of the party are the direct contacts that AfD leadership developed with powerful figures in Moscow. The meeting raised alarm in the German media over possible collusion between the Kremlin and the AfD, both of which have fervently denied such allegations.
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During that meeting, Merkel raised the Lisa affair in particular, as well as other misleading coverage of German politics shown on Russian state TV. Tschernow believes her intervention had an impact.
Although Russian state media continued giving favorable coverage to the AfD after Merkel confronted Putin, Kremlin broadcasters stopped short of giving the party as much airtime as it wanted. To get his message across to Russian voters, Tschernow still had to spend the weeks before the election driving around with a ladder in the back of his Audi station wagon, hanging AfD posters as high on the lampposts as he could.
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But his aim in politics is not to build bridges among these groups. How that approach will work during debates within the German parliament remains to be seen. As the third-most popular party in the land, the AfD will now become a prominent voice in the opposition to Merkel. As that confrontation unfolds, the AfD can expect to maintain the sympathy of at least one powerful ally.
How Russian Voters Fueled the Rise of Germany's Far-Right
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