Just four days before Germany’s September parliamentary elections, posters urging voters to support “Putin for Chancellor” reportedly started appearing near the Reichstag parliament building in Berlin. An image of one of these posters plastered on the side of a building was published online by the Stockholm-based conservative news site Free West Media. Upon closer examination of the photo, it was clear that it had been doctored, and unclear whether the posters had ever actually existed. Nevertheless, inspired by the incident, Zavtra, the most prominent extreme-right newspaper in Russia, published a fantastical work of short fiction about an underground German movement conspiring to elect Vladimir Putin as Germany’s leader.

The editor-in-chief of Zavtra is Russian ultranationalist Alexander Prokhanov, who made his name as a Soviet publisher. After founding another far-right magazine in the 90s, he began collaborating with the younger Alexander Dugin, whom...

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