German party disciplines Hamburg lawmaker over Moscow visit

The AfD in Hamburg intends to expel a lawmaker who recently served as an election observer in Russia

A Siberian-born German politician is facing punishment from her party for allegedly misleading fellow members about her intention to serve as an election observer in Russia.
Olga Petersen, who is a member of the Hamburg State Parliament, went to Russia in March to observe the presidential election. Her positive impressions about the process were cited by local media at the time.
The right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which Petersen belongs to, now intends to remove her. Its Hamburg branch announced on Tuesday that she had been removed from its faction in the parliament and that a legal process for her removal from the party was launched last Friday.
The statement listed several reasons for the disciplinary action, most of them related to internal party politics which Petersen allegedly had a disruptive effect on. The AfD also accused her of misleading fellow members by telling them she was going to Russia as a private person and acting otherwise during the trip.
The German government denounced the election, claiming it was neither free nor fair, and declined to send a representative to the inauguration of Vladimir Putin on Tuesday. The Russian president won in a landslide in March, securing a fifth term in office.

According to German media, earlier this year, the AfD’s federal leadership reprimanded three members of its Bavarian branch who defied its warnings not to observe the Russian election. In general, however, the party is critical of the government’s handling of the Ukraine crisis and advocates for improving relations with Moscow.
Petersen was the only woman in the AfD’s faction in the Hamburg Parliament. Now that she is independent, the group has shrunk to six members. She told NDR radio that her loyalties remain with the party and that she is preparing for a legal battle against the motion to remove her.