Russian raids of German political party foundations are unacceptable and may impair Russian-German relations, German party officials said.
The St. Petersburg office of the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation, affiliated to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, was searched today by Russia’s state prosecutor. Computers were confiscated on the grounds that software licenses had to be checked, said Adenauer foundation chief Hans-Gert Poettering, a former European Parliament president.
“This morning’s intervention is worrying and can’t be accepted in any way,” Poettering said on the organization’s website. “This restriction of our work may also lead to a strain on our relationship with Russia.”
Russian lawmakers last year required groups that receive money from abroad to register themselves as “foreign agents” and submit to tighter controls. Searches in recent days included the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation, affiliated to Germany’s Social Democratic Party, and other non-government organizations such as Amnesty International.
German political foundations and Russian NGOs play an important role in the development of freedom, democracy and the rule of law, and any obstruction of their work harms Russia’s democratic development, Poettering said.
“It’s unacceptable that long-standing German project partners have come under the suspicion of being ‘foreign agents’,” deputy CDU caucus leader Andreas Schockenhoff said in an e-mailed statement. “This practice violates the spirit of cooperation between the societies of Germany and Russia.
It’s in Russia’s interest not to undermine the exchange between the two countries through ‘‘mistrust and massive action,” Schockenhoff said. Russia, which wants to present itself as a cosmopolitan and modern state in coming years at major events including the Olympic Games in Sochi, is threatening its own future, he said.