Senior German officials believe Russia is trying to erode public trust in Merkel using immigration. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
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Moscow's intervention in an alleged rape case involving a German-Russian girl has heightened suspicions in Berlin that it is trying to stir up trouble, with a view to weakening Chancellor Angela Merkel.Senior German officials believe Russia is trying to erode public trust in Merkel using immigration, an issue which has badly damaged her opinion poll ratings and divided European Union governments over who should accommodate asylum-seekers pouring in over the past year.By undermining Merkel, who has taken a tough line on the Ukraine crisis, Moscow hopes to destabilize Europe and create a vacuum into which it can project its own power, they say. "The end of the truth," ran a headline in the latest edition of Der Spiegel magazine, above a picture of Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin.At the same time, Putin is trying to charm Germans.At the center of the turmoil is Merkel, still the EU's most powerful leader.Merkel's role in EU relations with Russia is crucial.Politicians across the spectrum in Berlin are worried that Seehofer, who has sharply criticized Merkel for letting in so many migrants, will cozy up to Putin.
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