- Russian and Syrian secret services may be encouraging refugees in Germany to carry out orchestrated sex attacks, in a bid to oust Angela Merkel from office, it is claimed.
The extraordinary assertion was made by an expert from the European Council on Foreign Relations, who said the foreign powers could collude to destabilise Germany ahead of next year’s election.
Gustav Gressel, a Russian expert at the think-tank, said small numbers of refugees with links to the Kremlin and Syrian security services could be mobilised to sway public opinion against the Chancellor.
- Gustav Gressel, from the European Council on Foreign Relations, warned that refugees could carry out orchestrated sex attacks, prompted by Russia
- He said this would destabilise Angela Merkel ahead of September’s election
- Merkel has already warned about Russian interference
- It follows mass reports of sex reports in Germany last New Year’s Eve
Citing a series of sex assaults in the city of Cologne during New Year’s Eve celebrations at the start of 2016 he told Bild: ‘What would happen, for example, if a similar event were repeated at a summer festival before the election as in the Silvesternacht in Cologne?
‘How would Merkel stand then? What would be the consequence for the Bundestag election? Of course, this is an extreme example, but it is within the range of possibility.’
Hundreds of sexual assaults and 29 rapes were reported across Germany, centred mainly in Cologne.
The attacks provoked an anti-migrant backlash, and Gressel said similar attacks could provoke Germans to turn on Merkel at next September’s election.
Merkel is widely viewed as hostile to Russia, and this week recommended extending EU sanctions against Moscow over the Ukraine conflict.
Last month the Chancellor warned that Russia is already trying to influence the German electoral process, stating: ‘We are already, even now, having to deal with information out of Russia or with internet attacks that are of Russian origin or with news which sows false information.’
She said dealing with this is already a ‘daily task’, and added: ‘So it may be that this could also play a role during the election campaign.’
But Hans-Georg Massen, who heads Germany’s domestic intelligence service, said a Russian disinformation campaign was likely.
Last month he cited the high-profile case last year of a young Russian woman from Berlin, who Russian media said was kidnapped and raped by migrants, a claim later refuted by the German government.
He told Reuters: ‘This could happen again next year and we are alarmed.
‘We have the impression that this is part of a hybrid threat that seeks to influence public opinion and decision-making processes.’
Merkel is widely viewed as being hostile to Russia,
Putin’s government has faced widespread allegations that it used hackers to try and influence the US Presidential election this year, with leaks of DNC files linked to Russian cyber groups.
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