Russian Payments to Top Journalist Hubert Seipel Jolts Germany

After Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, Germany went through a period of uncomfortable soul-searching about the close ties that some of its political and business leaders had to Moscow.

That self-examination spilled into the country’s journalistic establishment this week after published reports revealed that an award-winning television broadcaster and author who has extensively covered Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, had received hundreds of thousands of euros in undisclosed payments from businesses linked to a billionaire ally of Mr. Putin.

The reports, by a consortium of publishing outlets including Germany’s Der Spiegel and The Guardian of Britain, were based on what the consortium said was a leaked cache of offshore financial records. They said that the broadcaster, Hubert Seipel, had been paid about 600,000 euros (about $651,000) in installments from accounts connected to Alexei A. Mordashov, a prominent Russian businessman, who was placed under sanctions by the United States last year as a way to punish Mr. Putin for his war in Ukraine. The payments were to support Mr. Seipel’s books about Mr. Putin, the reports said.

The news that a prominent journalist in Germany has been linked to large payments from someone in Russia who is seen as a proxy of that country’s government has stirred worries in Germany that Russia has continued to use an old playbook of building relationships with high-profile pundits and thought leaders to subtly and covertly promote its interests — this time deep inside the journalistic establishment.

“He is not a singular phenomenon,” Franziska Davies, a specialist in the history of Eastern Europe at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, said of Mr. Seipel. Ms. Davies, who has been outspoken about the objectivity of Mr. Seipel and others in the past, added, “They were presented as experts but were saying what Moscow liked to hear.”

Mr. Seipel did not return requests seeking comment. But in the published reports, he denied that his impartiality was endangered. “I always set clear legal boundaries that guaranteed my independence,” he was quoted as saying in The Guardian. He also said he had always “described the world as it is, not as it should be.”

Mr. Seipel had also produced work for the German public broadcaster, NDR, including interviews with the American-born whistle-blower Edward J. Snowden as well as with Mr. Putin. In a statement, NDR said that Mr. Seipel had recently acknowledged receiving money from Mr. Mordashov through two “sponsorship contracts” in 2013 and 2018, explaining it was for two book projects.

He wrote a 2015 biography, “Putin: Inner Views of Power,” and “Putin’s Power: Why Europe Needs Russia,” published in 2021. They were seen as favorable to Mr. Putin, German observers said.

In its statement, NDR said that only after he was confronted did Mr. Seipel disclose the payments, and that the broadcaster considered the payments a significant conflict of interest that cast doubt on his journalistic independence.

“There is a suspicion that we and, therefore, our audience have been deliberately deceived,” NDR’s artistic director, Joachim Knuth, said in a statement. “We are now investigating this and examining legal steps.”

In the published reports, Mr. Seipel, who also regularly appeared on German talk shows to discuss Russia and the war in Ukraine, was quoted as saying the payments were only for the books, not for films and television interviews.

On Wednesday, his German publisher, Hoffmann and Campe, which said it had not known of the payments, released a statement saying it had “decided to no longer offer Hubert Seipel’s books for sale.”

Bret Schafer, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund in Washington, said any Russian success in building relations with a journalist inside a country’s established news media was likely to prove effective, from Moscow’s point of view.

“This is an exceptionally bizarre arrangement for a journalist to get paid covertly by an ally of his subject matter, but it fits in nicely with Russia’s efforts to influence the West through influencers,” he said.

Mr. Schafer had investigated the work of the Russian broadcaster RT Deutsch during the last German election, in 2021, which he said was an example of successful overt Russian influence.

Mr. Mordashov, the Russian oligarch, has interests in Severstal, the steel and mining company. He was also put under European Union sanctions while a shareholder of Rossiya Bank, the bloc said. The bank, it added, “is considered the personal bank of senior officials of the Russian Federation” and had opened branches across Russian-occupied Crimea. A spokesman for Severstal did not return a request for comment.

According to the published reports, financial documents obtained by the consortium included a “deed of sponsorship” signed in 2018 by Mr. Seipel and a director of De Vere Worldwide Corporation, a company said to be registered in the British Virgin Islands and that had links to Mr. Mordashov’s empire.

Under the deed of sponsorship, the reports said, Mr. Seipel was to receive “logistical and organizational support” for research in Russia but he had “no obligation to the sponsor in relation to the project,” including the content. The documents referred to another deed signed by another company, Cavern, which, the reports said, was most likely connected to Mr. Mordashov.

The revelations have spurred concern in Germany about Russian influence in the news media, and an article about the scandal in the newspaper Die Zeit bore the headline “The Russian Submarine.”

The war in Ukraine had already forced a broad reckoning in Germany about its longstanding economic and energy ties to Russia that left it deeply dependent on Russian gas and raised questions about whether Germany’s important and lucrative trade links had colored its policy approach to Moscow’s brutal invasion. The debate centered most prominently on former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who earned millions while promoting Russian energy interests and subsequently became a pariah.

Ms. Davies said that, in his public comments on German television, Mr. Seipel had been sometimes critical of Ukraine, stressing corruption and nationalism more than other commentators, and placing greater responsibility on the United States for supposedly forcing the conflict.

According to Der Spiegel, Mr. Seipel had presented a more personable face for Mr. Putin, accompanying him on deer hunts and playing billiards with the Russian leader, who was shown in one documentary by Mr. Seipel playing ice hockey alone, training for judo and swimming, and cuddling a dog.

In the 2012 documentary, “I, Putin: A Portrait,” Mr. Seipel is shown interviewing Mr. Putin in a limousine as they drive through Moscow. He asks the Russian leader where the West’s bad opinion of Russia had come from, and Mr. Putin answers “fear” of Russia, but adds this is “old thinking.”

“He was always close to Putin, and we were wondering, how was he managing this?” said Markus Ziener, a former journalist and visiting fellow at the German Marshall Fund in Berlin.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *





↑PelisPlus-VER↓ Fast & Furious X Película completa-español en línea gratis

[REPELIS verFast X (Fast & Furious 10) PELÍCULA COMPLETA Español

[Cuevana 4]!* Ver Fast & Furious 10 (Online) Película Completa 2023 en Español y Latino

✔Fast X (Fast & Furious 10) (2023)🎬 PELICULA COMPLETA➤ ESPAÑOL GRATIS

VOIR ▷ Fast X Film Complet En Francais HD [Regarder]

Regarder Fast X Film Complet En Francais [En HD Regarder]

!VOIR,!! — Fast & Furious X en Streaming-VF en Français, VOSTFR COMPLET

FILM ▷ Fast and Furious 10 en Streaming-VF en Français

ASSISTIR Velocidade Furiosa X 2023 FILME COMPLETO

Assistir Velocidade Furiosa X (2023) Filme Completo Online

!Assistir Filme Velozes e Furiosos 10 Completo HD 2023 Dublado Online

Assistir Velocidade Furiosa X 2023 Online Gratis (Filme HD)

[ดู.หนัง] เงือกน้อยผจญภัย (THE LITTLE MERMAID – 2023) เต็มเรื่อง HD พากย์ไทย ดูหนังใหม่ 1080I

ดูหนัง เงือกน้อยผจญภัย (2023) เต็มเรื่อง HD พากย์ไทย THAI HD Quality

[ดูหนัง.THAI] เงือกน้อยผจญภัย (2023) เต็มเรื่อง HD พากย์ไทย ฟรี on ยูทูบ

รู้ไว้ก่อนดู The Little Mermaid (2023) เงือกน้อยผจญภัย เต็ม เรื่อง

PELISPLUS !MEGA La Sirenita Pelicula Completa (HD) Espanol y Latino

VER_La Sirenita (2023) película completa en español latino


VER_La Sirenita (2023) película completa en español latino

REPELIS] Ver Transformers: El despertar de las bestias (2023) Película Online

[¡PELISPLUS!]*—Ver Transformers El despertar de las bestias [2023] Pelicula Completa Online en Español HD

Mega!-ver Transformers: El despertar de las bestias (Pelicula) HD online en espanol latino

PElis NUE (4k) ver Transformers: El despertar de las bestias ~Pelicula completa HD

[ดู-ไทย] ทรานส์ฟอร์เมอร์ส: กำเนิดจักรกลอสูร [TRANSFORMERS: RISE OF THE BEASTS-2023] – ดูหนังออนไลน์ (1080P) พากย์ไทย เต็มเรื่อง

ดู-หนัง!*] Transformers 2023 (ทรานส์ฟอร์เมอร์ส : กำเนิดจักรกลอสูร) ดูหนังออนไลน์ HD พากย์ไทย 1080p

ดูหนัง ทรานส์ฟอร์เมอร์ส: กำเนิดจักรกลอสูร (Transformers: Rise Of The Beasts) ออนไลน์ฟรี HD พากย์ไทย THAI!

[ดู.หนัง] ทรานส์ฟอร์เมอร์ส: กำเนิดจักรกลอสูร (2023) หนังเต็ม HD พากย์ไทย [Transformers: Rise of the Beasts]

Assistir Transformers: Rise of the Beasts [2023] Filme Completo Dublado Online Gratis em Portuguese

[[*Assistir]] Transformers: Rise of the Beasts Filme completo [ 2023 ] Dublado Portugues Grátis Online

Assistir Transformers O Despertar das Feras filme completo Dublado online Legendado

ASSISTIR! Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (2023) Filme Dublado Online Legendado HD Grátis

Transformers : Rise of the Beasts Streaming VF 2023 Regarder Film-Complet HD

!4K-VOIR!!@ — The Beasts en StreamingVF||COMPLET, VOSTFR-Gratuits

[.^WATCH^.] Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (2023) FullMovie Free Online Streaming on 123𝓶𝓸𝓿𝓲𝓮𝓼

[*𝐅𝐈𝐋𝐌𝐒 𝐕𝐎𝐈𝐑*] Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (2023) Français Gratuit et VF Complet