Defense/R&D Politics Regional

Russia provides combat trainings for far-right European organizations

According to the report of the German Focus, right-wing extremists from Germany participate in paramilitary training in a camp near St. Petersburg. Several course participants belong to two parties monitored by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution -€“ the Third Way (Der Dritte Weg) and Young Nationalists. The Third Way was founded in 2013 by the members of the National Democratic Party (Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands) and the banned Free Network South organization. Meanwhile, the party was detected of being tied with with the Assad regime in Syria, and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The Third Way announced its formation in 2013 and outlined a detailed call to boycott Israel – the plan was titled “€œWhat every person can do against the Zionist genocide.”€ According to the data posted on the website of this organization, members of the party met with the extremist Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) in Lebanon and with the representatives of the Bashar Assad regime in Syria. The website of the Third Way earlier published a report on the right-wing extremist group’s visit to Lebanon to champion Hezbolla’™s war against Israel. Members of the party can be viewed on the website at the Hezbollah propaganda museum called “€œWhere the Land Speaks to the Heavens” in the village of Mleeta in southern Lebanon. Kai Zimmermann, a senior leader of the Third Way, posed next to a plaque reading “€œNo, Israel is not invincible.” On its website the neo-Nazi group labeled Israel as a “terror state.”

The Young Nationalists party is the youth branch of the oldest right-wing extremist party in Germany – the National Democratic Party. It is politically insignificant by quantity: includes about 300 participant. However, its members are quite motivated, and a clear ideology allows using various narratives for recruiting campaigns, including the environmental ones.

RIM (Russian Imperial Movement) may have (or had) boots on the ground in Germany. In 2017 RIM wrote about having “a representative in Germany”€ on VK, a Russian social network. According to RIM’s announcement on VK, made later in April 2018, the movement participated in “€œEurope Wake Up!”€ rally in Dortmund.

RIM participating in “Europe Wake Up!”, post in social network

Not unlike other far right organizations worldwide, RIM has been heavily focused on George Floyd protests, instances of looting in the USA. “Uncontrolled Blacks, antifas and liberals in the USA”€ was one of the topics of a June 5 video addressed by the leaders of Russian Imperial Movement. The leader of RIM is Stanislav Vorobyev – former head of the Monarchist Party of Russian executive board and a member of the Derzhava movement committee; was born in 1960.

Stanislav Vorobyev

A public figure, a member of the Russian national committee of the Derzhava Social Patriotic movement, managed by Konstantin Zatulin (meanwhile, charged with political coordination of separatist movement in eastern Ukraine in 2014).

The Imperial Legion, RIM’s paramilitary branch, was created to provide Russian movement’s mobilization and military tactical training for future participants at The Reserve, a military patriotic club managed by Denis Gariev (born in 1978). Gariev, who started training fighters in 2008, is also a public figure and the head of The Partizan combat center in Petersburg.

The Partizan center, where German right-wing militants undergo trainings, is run by Russian Imperial Movement. In April the United States declared the Russian Imperial Movement (RIM) as a terrorist organization that includes people who “€œpursue the ideas of white supremacy.” According to the State Department, the movement owns two training camps in St. Petersburg – the first one was involved in an investigation conducted after the explosion in Gothenburg (the attack took place in 2016).

In July 2017, the Gothenburg District Court found three Swedish citizens -€“ Viktor Melin, Jimmy Jonasson and Anton Thulin -€“ guilty of organizing a series of explosions at the offices of left activists. They were sentenced to 8.5 years of imprisonment.

Viktor Melin and Anton Thulin

Investigators are sure that the defendants attended The Partizan courses in St. Petersburg. The Swedish newspaper Expressen wrote that in the context of the investigation the Swedish Security Service (SAPO) prepared a confidential report where stated that the defendants had taken combat training at The Partizan camp. Meanwhile, in 2020 a case of illicit weapons possession in Stockholm was heard, the investigators openly stated that nationalist Anatoly Udodov, the defendant, had assisted in the sending of extremists Melin and Thulin to The Partizan center for training.
The Partizan is affiliated with the DOSAAF – Volunteer Society for Cooperation with the Army, Aviation and Navy, officially backed by the Russian military. According to the IMINT analysis of the photos posted on social network, the training center is situated in the south of Heinäsenmaa Island in Lake Ladoga, 62 miles away from Petersburg.

Heinäsenmaa island

The Partizan runs shooting training, urban warfare training, tactical medicine, military psychology, high-altitude and survival training. The Partizan’s leaders, accused by the Swedish prosecutor’€™s office, claimed they had not used explosives; however, the feature of the training provided by The Partizan is setting up elements for explosive devices handling – in particular, MS-3 mines, that are part of trap mines.

The training and teaching activities of the center are run by war veterans and acting professionals from military intelligence, special forces, airborne troops, and training center of Russian Defense Ministry.

A person trained at the center claimed that one of the trainee-leaders was an intelligence officer, with almost 10 years of military intelligence experience. He wrote on the social network, where he left a positive feedback about the course, that there were members of the military among the trainee-leaders, noting that his group was prepared by a marine corps member. The members of the military undoubtedly cannot run such trainings without the top military command. Having finished the training course, the graduates from among foreign citizens were redirected to participate in hostilities in eastern Ukraine to support pro-Russian separatists.

Here is Memorandum of cooperation between RIM and DPR (separatistic Donetsk People’s Republic on the east of Ukraine):

We, the plenipotentiary representative of the government of the Donbass People’€™s Republic, hereinafter referred to as the DPR, as the First Party, and the authorized coordinators of the Russian Imperial Movement, as the Second Party, have signed this memorandum of cooperation.

The Parties proclaim the unity of the interests of the DPR and RIM in protecting the Russian population of Donbass from hostile intervention, in developing this territory upon terms of tradition and history, and the need to resist evil in all its manifestations.

With this document, the DPR government grants RIM all rights to open a plenipotentiary and permanent representational office of the DPR in the territory of the Russian Federation and appoints Stanislav Vorobyev, RIM authorized coordinator, as the head of this representational office.
RIM, in turn, assumes the following obligations:

  1. informational support for the DPR initiatives in media space;
  2. to establish an authorized DPR Office at its premises in St.Petersburg;
  3. to raise funds and summon experts for the DPR needs within the RF territory;
  4. to render any other assistance agreed upon with the DPR.
the Memorandum

In June 2014 the first professionally trained and equipped group of the Imperial Legion, trained at The Reserve and The Partizan, was sent to Slavyansk under the command of Igor Girkin (“€œStrelkov”€), a person affiliated with FSB.

Igor Girkin posted on RIM account

It was immediately taken on the second troop of the Semenovsky battalion that sabotaged against Ukraine’s anti-terrorist operation forces in the area of Semenovka village. Besides, Syrian mercenaries and members of far-right associations were trained there. “€œPeople come from Germany, the Baltic states, Kazakhstan, I’m not going to talk to you about them,”€ Denis Gariev said in an interview. In 2019 about 40 people attended courses monthly, nearly 60% of them were from St. Petersburg, Gariev said. “€œWhen we [the center] were established, those who were going to the ISIS came to us as well,”€ Gariev stated. It is highly probable that, at the initial stage of functioning, The Partizan trained Russian citizens who joined the ISIS.

On the VKontakte social network nearly 18 thousand users identified themselves as the members of Partizan Courses community. Four of them are Swedish citizens, twelve – Finnish, and about 30 people are from the Baltic countries. The Higher Land Court of Munich believes that the nephew of notorious Russian television propagandist Dmitry Kiselev fought in the Donbass, and, before that, perhaps, he had been trained at The Partizan. As a result, Sergei Kiselev, a German citizen, was sentenced to two years and three months of imprisonment for the intention to participate in hostilities in Ukraine. This confirms the fact that German citizens were trained at The Partizan center.

Despite the fact that RIM officially declares that it opposes Putin’s regime, the organization is affiliated with the government. German security services believe that Russian President Putin is aware of such camps and at least allows them to exist. Firstly, while military training is carried out, weapons are used. Urban warfare training is not banned by law enforcement bodies. The troops sent to Ukraine and Syria were under the control of Russian military intelligence. And finally, in 2012 only the RIM website was declared by the Russian Ministry of Justice as an extremist one, but not the organization itself.

Despite the fact that the site was blocked, the organization still has an account on the Russian VKontakte network and about 13 thousand subscribers. Moreover, RIM has a page on the well-known Russian site Odnoklassniki, it sells its ideas on YouTube backup channels, as well as on Facebook.

RIM is politically tied with the Kremlin through the St. Petersburg branch of The Rodina party and its leader Alexei Zhuravleva State Duma member. Zhuravlev directly backed Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine and personally met with the LPR leaders; he is the member of the military intelligence influence group in Russia’s state system (MoD lobbyst). The Rodina party and the Russian National Cultural Center tried to set up the World Conservative Movement. Zhuravlev is obviously a “RIM’€™s handler.” The movement in St. Petersburg was cooperating with local government and carried out municipal patrols after the Russian Ministry of Justice declared the RIM website as extremist.

The source: Institute for Global Threats and Democratic Studies

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