European neo-Nazis undergo combat training in Russia – report

11:00, 10 June 2020
World
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REUTERS

Right-wing extremists from Germany undergo paramilitary training in a camp near St. Petersburg, according to the German Focus. Several course participants belong to the "Third Way" (Der Dritte Weg) and "Young Nationalists" parties, monitored by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, reporters claim.

The "Third Way" was formed in 2013 by people from the National Democratic Party (Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands) and the banned Free Network South organization. The party is tied with the Assad government in Syria, and Hezbollah in Lebanon, IGTDS reports.

Der Dritte Weg has outlined a detailed call to boycott Israel, labeling it a "terror state".

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

The militants were trained at the "Partizan" training center, according to the Focus.

The center is run by the RIM (Russian Imperial Movement), IGTDS reports.

Not unlike other far-right worldwide, Russia's 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 address by RIM's leaders.

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In April, the United States designated the Russian Imperial Movement (RIM) as a terrorist organization that includes people who "pursue the ideas of white supremacy". The movement has got two training camps in St. Petersburg, according to the State Department. One of them, according to Nathan Sales, the U.S. State Department Coordinator for Combating Terrorism, was targeted in an investigation of the explosion in Gothenburg in 2016. The Swedish prosecutor's office believes perpetrators Viktor Melin and Anton Thulin underwent combat training at the Partizan center.

The Partizan is affiliated with the DOSAAF, Volunteer Society for Cooperation with the Army, Aviation and Navy, officially backed by the Russian military. IMINT analysis of the photos published on social network suggests the training center is in the south of Heinäsenmaa Island, located in Lake Ladoga, 62 miles away from Petersburg.

The Partizan runs urban warfare training, live-fire shooting, tactical medicine, high-altitude training, military psychology, and survival training. Having been accused by the Swedish prosecutor's office, Partizan’s leaders claimed they had not used explosives, but the courses feature setting up elements for explosive devices handling, in particular, MS-3 mines, that are part of trap mines.

Having analyzed the photos available it is possible to assert that AK-74 5.45, AKM 7.62 Saiga 20S (used by special forces), Makarov pistols and MP-443 Grach are used while training.

Group classes are similar to teaching the basics of sabotage operations and reconnaissance group activity.

The training and teaching activities of the Center are run by war veterans and acting professionals from military intelligence, airborne troops, special forces, and Russia's Defense Ministry training center. Members of the military undoubtedly cannot run such training sessions 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 on the side of pro-Russian separatists.

It is highly probable that, at the initial stage of functioning, the Partizan trained Russian citizens who joined ISIS, the report reads, referring to the center's manager Denis Gariev.

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Despite the fact that RIM officially declares that it is in opposition to  Putin's regime, in reality it is affiliated with the government, IGDTS stresses. First, combat training is carried out using military weapons. Urban warfare tactics training does not meet resistance from law enforcement bodies. Second, the troops were sent to Ukraine and Syria under the control of Russian military intelligence. Third, in 2012, only the RIM website was declared extremist by the Russian Ministry of Justice, not the organization itself. German security services believe that Russian President Putin is aware of such camps and at least allows them to exist.

Though the site was blocked, the organization still has an account on the Russian VKontakte network, and their page has about 13,000 subscribers. Moreover, RIM has a page on the well-known Russian site Odnoklassniki, and 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, i.e., the State Duma member Alexei Zhuravlev, the leader of the Rodina party, the report concludes.

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