An employee of an AfD member of parliament has been accused of commissioning an arson attack on a Hungarian cultural centre in Ukraine, with the intention of pinning the blame on Ukrainian neo-Nazi’s in order to stir up tensions between Ukraine and Hungary.
According to one of the defendants on trial for carrying out the firebombing in the Ukrainian city of Uzhgorod in February 2018, he and his two co-defendants were working on the orders of Manuel Ochsenreiter, a consultant for the Baden-Württemberg AfD deputy Markus Frohnmaier.
Michał P., one of the men on trial, said that Ochsenreiter paid the three Polish men to attack the centre and covered the costs of their flights to Ukraine. He also instructed them to send him a video of the act.
The three defendants were filmed on CCTV at a petrol station buying fuel for Molotov cocktails, as well as on cameras at outside the cultural centre, which recorded them carrying out the attack.
Ochsenreiter has denied the allegations, labelling them as fictitious.
The AFD member of parliament Markus Frohnmaier has stood by Ochsenreiter and has said he won’t fire him unless he is charged with a crime, putting him instead on temporary leave but keeping him on a political consultant. However, according to the German newspaper Die Zeit, which broke the story, Frohnmaier accepted an ‘offer’ by Ochsenreiter to step down from his position.
Prosecutors in Berlin have now opened an investigation into the allegations made by Michał P, who claims that as well as filming the attack, he and his accomplices were directed by Ochsenreiter to daub the walls of the building with swastikas in an attempt to frame it on Ukrainian ultra-nationalists.
The incident came at a time of heightened tensions between Hungary and Ukraine over a Ukrainian language law which bans teaching in minority languages. Budapest protested against the legislation which it says discriminates against the 150,000 ethnic Hungarians living in Ukraine. As a result Hungary is blocking Ukraine’s integration with NATO.
Analysts say that the dispute has been capitalised on by Russia to further raise tensions between the two countries.
According to Radio Free Europe, Manuel Ochsenreiter is a vocal supporter of Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine who has been interviewed numerous times on Russian state media.