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16/12/2021 | German chancellor warns of threat to democracy from anti-vaccine militants

Joseph Fitsanakis

GERMANY’S NEW CHANCELLOR, OLAF Scholz, warned that democracy “stands ready to defend itself”, after a special police unit uncovered an alleged assassination plot by anti-vaccine extremists in the city of Dresden.

 

Dresden is located in the state of Saxony, which is considered a stronghold of anti-vaccine sentiment in Germany. It has one of the country’s highest COVID-19 infection rates and one of the lowest rates of vaccination among the local population.

On Wednesday morning, police raided at least five different properties in Dresden and a property in the nearby town of Heidenau, in connection with an alleged assassination plot against local government officials. According to a police statement, the searches were connected with an investigation of six German nationals, five men and one woman, who range in age from 32 to 64. All six are reportedly members of an online group calling itself “Dresden Offlinevernetzung” (“Dresden Offline Network”), which describes itself as an anti-vaccination and anti-government entity.

According to media reports, the group brings together conspiracy theorists, far-right extremists and anti-government militants, who frequently issue online calls to oppose mitigation measures against COVID-19 “with armed resistance, if necessary”. Police officials claim that members of Dresden Offlinevernetzung were planning to assassinate the prime minister of the state of Saxony, Michael Kretschmer, 47, as well as other local government officials.

Assassination plans had allegedly been discussed by members of the group through online messaging platforms, such as Telegram, as well as in face-to-face meetings. Additionally, a number of group members had posted messages indicating they had access to working firearms, machetes or hunting-style crossbows. Several members of Dresden Offlinevernetzung are now in detention and are waiting to be arraigned. A few hours after the raids and arrests, Germany’s new Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, said that German democracy was “ready to defend itself” against “this tiny minority of uninhibited extremists trying to impose their will on our entire society”. He added that he had authorized the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), Germany’s federal domestic intelligence agency, to prioritize operations against violent anti-vaccine militants.

Last week, a group of anti-vaccine extremists held a Nazi-style torchlit rally in front of the home of Saxony’s Minister of Health, Petra Köpping.

Intelnews.org (Estados Unidos)

 



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