The Russian war in Ukraine was not foreseeable when Alexander S. began to arrange shady deals with Russian partners.

They could still be punishable because he is said to have circumvented Russia sanctions and violated the War Weapons Control Act.

The Attorney General charged the 57-year-old man from Markkleeberg in Saxony on Tuesday before the Dresden Higher Regional Court.

Since 2017, S. is said to have exported goods to Russia without a permit from the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (BAFA) in 13 cases, broken a sales ban in one case and achieved sales of more than one million euros.

Stephen Locke

Correspondent for Saxony and Thuringia based in Dresden.

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S. knew that the goods he was selling could be used for both civilian and military purposes, and there in particular for the development of chemical weapons.

According to the indictment, the fact that the accused's Russian business partner is "directly linked to the FSB secret service" makes matters worse.

"Do something for peace"

S. waits patiently until the federal prosecutor has finished, but then he would "like to take the opportunity" to comment.

For almost two hours he describes his life and the processes in the company.

His father met his mother while studying geophysics in the Soviet Union.

Her father, on the other hand, was strictly against the connection with the German, against whose compatriots he had fought in the war.

Nevertheless, the mother moved to the GDR.

S. is the eldest son and had two younger siblings.

He also talks in detail about his German grandmother, who taught him “never again war”.

After school he went to Löbau to study at the National People's Army (NVA) officer's academy, "with the firm conviction that he had to do something for peace during the Cold War".

He specialized in chemistry, graduated as a graduate engineer for process engineering and as a lieutenant and then trained the next generation of soldiers on Rügen.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, S. left the NVA and the SED and found work in a company for geophysical measuring systems.

He married, started his own business with a soil regeneration process he had developed, got divorced and married again – the daughter of a Russian business partner with whom he has a child.

Business contacts with Russia soon intensified.

S., who speaks fluent Russian, now traded in all kinds of equipment for medicine, science and research, including neutron generators, capacitor paper, power plant control technology and research glove boxes.

However, when in 2014, as he puts it, “the well-known events surrounding Crimea” took place, his business plummeted as a result of the sanctions.

He then looked for alternatives and, for example, sold used lighting and sound technology to the East.

At the beginning of 2020, investigators searched his company for the first time, and a year later also his private house.

S., who was in Moscow at the time, had to hand in his laptop and mobile phone when he returned to the airport.

He emphasized on Tuesday that he had always acted to the best of his knowledge and belief.

Every deal was checked twice, firstly for sanctions, and secondly he screened clients for military contacts.

S. also got caught up in contradictions, such as the question of why the goods had already been paid for before the export license was issued.

When asked by the prosecution whether he was a chemical weapons expert, S. replied that his training was all about protecting himself from chemical weapons and dealing with their consequences.

If S. is convicted, he faces at least two years in prison.