In raids across the country, German police have arrested 25 suspected members and supporters of a far-right group allegedly seeking to overthrow the state by force to install a prince as national leader who had sought support from Russia, the federal prosecutor said . office.
About 3,000 agents raided 130 locations in 11 German states on Wednesday against supporters of the so-called Reichsburger Movement (Reichsbürger).
Prosecutors said members of the movement were suspected of making “concrete preparations to forcibly enter the German parliament with a small armed group”.
They added that 22 people arrested were German citizens and were being held on suspicion of “membership in a terrorist organization”, while three others were believed to support the organization, including a Russian national.
Dominic Kane of Al Jazeera, reporting from Berlin, said those involved in the plot were “heavily armed”.
“It is suggested that these people have believed that there is a deep state operating in Germany, which is against Germany’s interests and that this Russian national along with others may have tried to approach the Russian Federation for help,” he said. .
“It is not known what kind of contact they had and what happened out of those contacts if they did indeed happen.”
The Kremlin said later on Wednesday that there can be no question of any Russian involvement in the plot.
“This appears to be a German internal problem,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “There can be no question of any Russian interference.”
Some group members reject the post-war constitution and advocate replacing the elected government with their own government. They do not rule out violence against the state as a means to their ends.
The weekly magazine Der Spiegel reported that one of the robberies was the barracks of the German special unit KSK in the southwestern town of Calw.
In the past, the KSK has been investigated for alleged far-right involvement of some of its soldiers. But federal prosecutors declined to confirm or deny that the barracks were being searched.
Other suspects were arrested in the states of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavaria, Berlin, Hesse, Lower Saxony, Saxony and Thuringia, as well as in neighboring Austria and Italy, according to the public prosecutor’s office.
Prosecutors said the suspects had been preparing to carry out their plan since late November 2021, as they knew it could only be achieved through force.
The plot envisioned a former member of a German royal family, identified as Heinrich XIII PR under German privacy law, as the leader in a future state, while another suspect, Rüdiger v P, was the head of the military branch, the prosecutor’s office said. .
They are accused of setting up a “terrorist organization with the aim of overthrowing the existing state order in Germany and replacing it with their own form of state, which was already being established”.
The prosecutor’s office said Heinrich, who uses the title prince and hails from the royal house of Reuss, which had ruled parts of East Germany, had contacted representatives of Russia, which the group saw as the central point of contact for setting up of the new order. .
It said there was no evidence the representatives had responded positively to the request.
‘Enemies of Democracy’
The German government will respond with the full force of the law, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said.
“The investigations provide a glimpse into the abyss of a terrorist threat from the Reichsbürger milieu,” Faeser said in a statement, adding that the rule of law knew how to defend itself against “the enemies of democracy.”
The House of Reuss had previously distanced itself from Heinrich, calling him a confused man who pursued conspiracy theories, according to local media. Neither the House of Reuss nor Prince Reuss’ office have responded to requests for comment.
The German monarchy was abolished a century ago. When the Weimar Constitution came into effect on August 14, 1919, the legal privileges and titles of the German nobility were abolished. Officially there are no princes and princesses in Germany.
Far-right ideology in Germany has grown worryingly in recent years.
In May, the Federal Ministry of the Interior reported that 327 employees of Germany’s federal and state security authorities were found to be associated with the hard right-wing ideology over a three-year period.
In February 2020, at least nine people were shot and killed by an attacker with suspected far-right ties in Hanau.