Reuters identifies key agents of Russian influence in Germany

3 January, 10:46 PM
Pro-Russian rally in Cologne, September 4, 2022. In the foreground - a native of Ukraine Olena Kolbasnikova (Photo:REUTERS/Maria Tsvetkova)

Pro-Russian rally in Cologne, September 4, 2022. In the foreground - a native of Ukraine Olena Kolbasnikova (Photo:REUTERS/Maria Tsvetkova)

Key participants of pro-Russian protests in Germany are bound by shared far-right views or ties to Russia, Reuters reported on Jan. 3.

Over the course of their investigation, journalists identified some of the most prominent individuals who advocated for “peace” with Russia and for an end to German support for Ukraine.

According to the article, one of the participants in the pro-Russian rally in Cologne in September 2022 was Max Schlund (formerly Rostislav Teslyuk), a former officer of the Russian Air Force. He changed his name after moving to Germany 10 years ago.

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Recently, Russian state agency Rossotrudnichestvo, which the EU accuses of running a propaganda network, paid Shlund’s air fare to Moscow to visit a conference where Russian dictator Vladimir Putin was the keynote speaker. When journalists asked Schlund to comment on this information, he replied: “Eff off! Glory to Russia!”

Schlund’s romantic partner, Olena Kolbasnikova, is a native of Ukraine. She similarly became a public face of the Cologne protest. Earlier, she stated that she was fired from her job as a nurse “because of Russophobia.”

In 2022, the couple visited temporarily occupied part of Ukraine’s Donbas, where they distributed “humanitarian aid.”

Kolbasnikova was also invited to the aforementioned conference, but later claimed she and Schlund missed their flight.

Another participant in the protest was Andrei Kharkovsky, a member of the Union of Cossack Warriors of Russia and Abroad – an organization that publicly supports Russia's war against Ukraine.

Russian-German businessman Oleg Yeremenko was also seen at pro-Russian events across Germany. He claimed that Ukrainian youth was taught to hate Russia. The Russian Orthodox Church in Berlin is one of the clients of Yeremenko’s construction company. He is a member of Desant (Russian for “airborne”) organization, consisting of former Russian military personnel. In 2020, Russian Ambassador to Germany presented Yeremenko with an award – for services to Russia.

Reuters found out that the man is familiar with one of the former Russian commanders in Donbas, Igor ‘Strelkov’ Girkin. In addition, Yeremenko confirmed to reporters that he worked for Russian military intelligence.

In September 2022, rallies were held in Cologne and Prague against EU sanctions against Russia and support for Ukraine. At the time, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry called these events “a coven under tricolors in the center of Europe,” as many participants marched with Russian flags.

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