“Qatargate” is one of the biggest scandals to ever hit the European Parliament. The Belgian federal investigation shows that Qatar was actively bribing EU MEPs with literally bags of cash for support. 60 MPs are already under suspicion but new names are coming up.
This time, it is about Maximillan Krah or “Champagne Max” as he is nicknamed, an MEP from Germany’s Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party. Project Veritas has released an audio tape of an undercover journalist speaking to Krah about the number of people dying from labor conditions in Qatar.
On the audio tape, Krah can be heard downplaying the labor death toll during the works for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The Guardian estimated this number to be around 6500. Krah says there were 20 dead and it is “even less”. Further, he says he got this information from the Qatari ambassador.
Krah also downplayed the labor death problem in Qatar when the EU Parliament discussed the human rights situation in Qatar in connection with the awarding of the 2022 World Cup. In a press release, he reframed the issue as a “western-woke” agitation:
“it is arrogant to criticize Qatar for not being willing to adopt western-woke social models. Hosting a football World Cup does not mean giving up one’s own culture. Just as we don’t want burqas to be worn in domestic stadiums, Qatar doesn’t want rainbow propaganda on and off the soccer field. That has to be respected.
Apparently, people in Brussels and Berlin have not yet understood this. The campaign being waged against Qatar is based to a large extent on fake news, such as when every foreigner who has died in Qatar since the World Cup was awarded is declared a ‘World Cup dead’. That is simply dubious.”
There is no evidence that Krah received any money from Qatar and he is not officially part of the Qatargate investigation. But there is a scent of something.
On April 5, 2022, Krah was suspended by the “Identity & Democracy” parliamentary group, to which the AfD belongs, because of the “repeated violation of duties of loyalty and loyalty to the parliamentary group”.
When the Project Veritas released the audio tape with Krah, the magazine Freilich, which is understood to be close to the AfD, headlined the controversy as “Media Attacks AfD Politician Because of EU Corruption Scandal”.
“Champagne Max” and the Chinese
Besides Qatar, Krah also appears to be a good friend to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Investigative journalist Matthew Tyrmand has documented Krah’s involvement with the CCP. Krah was a member and Vice-Chair, of the unofficial caucus the “EU-China Friendship Group”, which was suspended after being exposed for being too close to the Chinese government in an article in Politico. Huawei and Petroleum China financed Krah’s trip to China for the anniversary of the People’s Republic. Krah also did a congratulatory video for the occasion.
In an interview with CCP mouthpiece, the Global Times (GT), Krah cozied up to Beijing:
“It is always positive news when politicians talk with each other instead of talking about each other. China is the EU´s largest trade partner, it should be the most common thing to have contacts. That we see such a talk as something special shows that we are in an unnormal situation. I hope that this talk is a first step to find back to normality in our relations with China,”
When GT questioned Krah about “Lithuania’s provocations over the Taiwan issue”, he said “Lithuania was a sad example” that showed a lack of realism:
“Lithuania is a sad example. There might be one or two other smaller countries that follow. But at least for the big fishes, like Germany and France, I don’t see it. The costs would be too high, the public would not applaud it, there is just a sense for reality, which is lacked in Lithuania, obviously.”
When asked about criticism of China over human rights issues, Krah relativizes the problem, saying “this new way of interpreting human rights is the last and ultimate weapon the West has to maintain its global power.”
China has detained more than one million Uyghurs against their will in “re-education” camps. China is accused of committing crimes against humanity against the Uyghur population in the north-western region of Xinjiang.
Krah also defended the Chinese record in Tibet, which has been under Chinese occupation for over 60 years:
“The whole of China has participated in the construction of Tibet, which has enabled Tibet to enter the modern life of the new world while preserving its history and culture,” he told the European Times.
In a tweet, Krah described the well-documented mass human rights violations in Xinjiang as ‘anti-china propaganda”:
“I’ve always thought the scary stories about Xinjiang questionable, anti- #China propaganda with no valid facts. At least for the present there is agreement: the supposedly harsh oppression does not exist (anymore). This allows the EU sanctions to expire.”