German Far-Right AfD Bans Own Top EU Candidate From Campaigning, Russian link suspected

The ban comes after Krah, who is being investigated over suspicious Russian and Chinese links, sparked outrage by stating in a recent interview that not all members of the Nazi SS forces were “criminals.”

In an extraordinary move, the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party announced Wednesday it was prohibiting its lead candidate for the upcoming European Parliament elections, Maximilian Krah, from making any further public appearances on the campaign trail.

The ban comes after Krah, who is being investigated over suspicious Russian and Chinese links, sparked outrage by stating in a recent interview that not all members of the Nazi SS forces were “criminals.”

Krah’s comments about the infamous Schutzstaffel paramilitary organization created to support Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime were widely condemned across the German political spectrum.

They also appear to have been the final straw for the AfD’s European allies. On Wednesday, French far-right leader Marine Le Pen announced her National Rally party would no longer join the AfD in the same parliamentary group following the EU elections due to the controversial remarks.

The dramatic developments have plunged the AfD’s already rocky European campaign into deeper turmoil just weeks before the May 23rd vote.

Krah has emerged as a lightning rod in recent months amid allegations of inappropriate ties to authoritarian regimes in Moscow and Beijing through his work at a Leipzig-based political consultancy firm.

Though he has denied any wrongdoing, Krah is reportedly under investigation by German security services over the purported links. Wednesday’s events suggest the AfD itself is now distancing from its lead candidate.

The suspension comes as the far-right populist party has seen its polling numbers decline in recent months as issues like the Ukraine war and inflation have shifted the political debate in Germany.

While it remains a force and is expected to again send AfD lawmakers to the European Parliament, the latest controversy could further hamper the party’s ability to wield influence on the EU stage through coalition building.

With their lead candidate now sidelined, the election of German representatives to the European body looks poised to inflict yet another black eye on the AfD’s struggle for relevance and mainstream acceptance.