Vladimir Sergienko, an aide to Bundestag deputy Eugen Schmidt of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, has stepped down from his position following a recent investigation by The Insider and Der Spiegel exposing him as an asset of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB).
Schmidt’s press release, available in German on his personal Facebook page, reads:
“Support for the AfD is increasing, and is increasingly becoming a threat to warm-sitting, well-dining officials. Of course they want to harm us, which doesn't surprise us. Surveillance and absurd classifications by the government-controlled so-called Office for the Protection of the Constitution, a ‘spy in the Bundestag’ or an allegedly secret meeting in Potsdam – the media and so-called ‘non-governmental organizations’ financed by taxpayers’ money serve to combat the opposition. They spread false reports, leave out facts, and frame things as much as they can.
Yesterday Vladimir Sergiyenko informed me that he would cease all activity for me. The media campaign directed against him makes it impossible for him to continue his work. Mr. Sergiyenko worked for me to help discriminated against Russian-speaking citizens; people who have been exposed to massive hostility, including through media reporting, since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine. I respect his decision and can understand it.
I have taken legal action against the Bild newspaper because of untrue statements of fact. I will report on the outcome as soon as possible.
The pro-government media is increasingly making a fool of itself, as thousands of comments on social media under the ‘exposure stories’ show.”
According to Schmidt’s statement, the MP initiated legal action against the German tabloid newspaper Bild because of “untrue statements of fact.” The tabloid recently ran the headline: “Bei def AfD: Russen-Spion im Bunderstag enttamt” (“With the AfD: Russian spy in the Bundestag exposed”).
The Insider and Der Spiegel reported last August that Sergienko had fallen under suspicion in Germany after his email and text message correspondence with a suspected FSB operative known only as “Alexei” came to light.
The investigation published on Feb. 1, 2024, confirmed that “Alexei” was in fact Ilya Vechtomov, an officer of the Fifth Service of Russia’s FSB. Even though the FSB is largely responsible for domestic security and counterintelligence activities inside Russia, the Fifth Service, created in the 1990s, acts as its foreign intelligence arm.
Under Vechtomov’s direction, Sergienko initiated a lawsuit aimed at halting — or at least slowing — German security assistance to Kyiv by making the claim that Chancellor Olaf Scholz had not received all of the necessary approvals from the Bundestag before undertaking to send Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine.
On Jan. 29 The Insider also disclosed that at least one Fifth Service FSB officer served as a handler to Tatjana Ždanoka, a Latvian MEP. Following the publication of that article, it was announced that Ždanoka is under internal investigation by the European Parliament.