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German Greens Facing Legal Action Over Anti-Russian Slurs

A political dispute over the proposed twinning of Darmstadt with the Russian town of Obninsk is set to end up in the German courts, after a Green politician allegedly used anti-Russian slurs in his objection to the proposal.

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The German Greens are facing legal action after a local politician in Darmstadt, in the state of Hesse, allegedly committed incitement to ethnic hatred during a discussion about the proposed twinning of Darmstadt with Obninsk in Russia.

Addressing the town council, Green politician Philip Kraemer declared his opposition to the proposal and called Russians "murderers." As a result, politicians from Alternative for Germany reported him to the local police department in Hesse.

"Instead, you stand with your proposed city partnership on the side of the murderers. The same murderers who are also […] driving the escalation in Ukraine again, with numerous dead civilians," Kraemer declared, Sputnik Deutschland reported.

Russia has repeatedly rejected accusations of involvement in the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, which began in March 2014 when Kiev launched a military campaign against those supporting the independence of the Donbass region, who refused to recognize the government which took power as a result of the Euromaidan coup d'etat.

Thomas Arend, leader of Alternative for Germany on Darmstadt's town council, told Sputnik Deutschland that he reported Kraemer to the police because the politician "insulted an entire nation," which is incitement to ethnic hatred.

"We have filed a complaint with the police about incitement, because we can't understand how a town councilor can openly describe a nation as murderers," Arend said.

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Kraemer has since said he was referring to the Russian leadership, not all Russian people, but Arend says that that wasn't clear from his statement. 

For his part, the Green politician has filed a counter-complaint with German police, alleging that Alternative for Germany has slandered him, the Frankfurter Rundschau reported.

Arend explained that Alternative for Germany proposed twinning Darmstadt with Obninsk as a way of recognizing the past suffering of the people of Obninsk during the Second World War, and to show gratitude for the sacrifices made by those who fought against fascism.

"One must not forget that in December 1944 the German army invaded the small village of Obninsk. We simply see this as something good we can do for the town of Obninsk," the politician said.

Obninsk is known in Russia for having been home to the first nuclear reactor in the world to produce electricity for public use, in 1954. In 1986, nuclear emergency specialists were sent from the city to Chernobyl to respond to the disaster.

Although the proposed partnership between Darmstadt and Obninsk has been rejected by the local council for now, Arend and the AfD will try again as they are keen to forge greater links between Russia and Germany, which would bring economic benefits.

"We think it's a very sensible idea, we see Russia as an important trade partner. We want better relations and a partnership with Russia," Arend said.

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