A member of the German parliament from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) resigned on Thursday amid allegations about payments from Azerbaijan.
The MP, Mark Hauptmann, told newspaper Die Welt that he did nothing wrong but decided to step down to protect his fiancée and children from public harassment.
Hauptmann’s resignation follows scandals surrounding two other German conservative MPs, accused of taking payments to help broker face mask procurement deals. They both quit the conservative group in the Bundestag in response to the allegations.
The resignations come at a politically delicate time for the CDU — just ahead of two important regional elections on Sunday, which are expected to influence the race to succeed Merkel in a general election in September.
On Wednesday, magazine Der Spiegel reported that the Azerbaijani embassy in Berlin paid €16,744 to advertise a shopping weekend in Baku in a local newspaper that Hauptmann publishes in the state of Thuringia. According to the report, the payment was made after Hauptmann had worked for years to establish cordial ties with Azerbaijan, consistently siding with the country despite its controversial human rights record.
The governments of Taiwan and Vietnam also paid for ads in the newspaper, Spiegel reported.
Two other CDU MPs, Karin Strenz and Axel Fischer, are also facing questions over ties to Azerbaijan. They are suspected of taking payments for political activity in the interests of the Azerbaijani government. Official investigations are underway against both MPs, who deny the allegations.
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(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by WCT staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)