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German Nationalist Leader Petry Met With Putin Allies In Russia's Duma

Frauke Petry, co-leader of the anti-migrant, pro-Kremlin populist party Alternative for Germany

Germany's most prominent nationalist politician held talks with Russian lawmakers over the weekend, including senior members of President Vladimir Putin's United Russia party, her office has said.

Frauke Petry, the co-leader of Alternative for Germany, was invited to Moscow to discuss "cooperation," and met with State Duma speaker and Putin confidant Vyacheslav Volodin, and a deputy speaker, Pyotr Tolstoy, Petry's office said on February 20, without saying what was discussed.

A statement by the Duma said the talks covered "interparty cooperation, as well as the development of contacts of youth organizations" and the meeting also was attended by Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Leonid Slutsky of the ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia.

The meeting comes at a sensitive time in German-Russian relations.

German officials have repeatedly warned that Moscow could try to influence Germany's election in September and destabilize the country by supporting extremist groups.

The Kremlin has already established ties with France's National Front, whose leader Marine Le Pen is running on a pro-Russia platform and is polling strongly ahead in the presidential election.

Alternative for Germany, whose support falls below 10 percent in polls, also strongly opposes Chancellor Angela Merkel's admission of hundreds of thousands of refugees into Germany.

Based on reporting by AP and dpa