Disinfo: The US fears Russian monarchists, so it labelled them as terrorists

Summary

The US State Department designated the organisation Russian Imperial Movement as a terrorist one, the first time that they accuse a group that doesn’t practice radical Islamism but Orthodox Christianity. The decision is justified by the allegation that the group holds and promotes white supremacist ideas, which from the point of view of the institution represents a threat to the State. But if we analyse the publications of this group in social media, the movement actually focuses on the restoration of the order that existed in the Russian Empire and not on racism. Its manifest doesn’t include any article indicating their adherence to white supremacism. Rather the US State Department affirms that RIM’s international activities aim to join forces with its allies in the US and Europe in a common front to fight against their enemies, and that is what the US is afraid of.

Disproof

The designation of the Russian Imperial Movement (RIM) as a global terrorist group is based on its responsibility in paramilitary and terrorist actions, which led to violence against innocents, and not on its ideological stance, according to the US State Department. In addition, RIM has provided paramilitary-style training to white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Europe and actively works to rally these types of groups into a common front against their perceived enemies. RIM has two training facilities in St. Petersburg, which are likely being used for woodland and urban assault, tactical weapons, and hand-to-hand combat training. In 2016, two Swedish individuals attended RIM’s training course; thereafter, they committed a series of bombings in Gothenburg, Sweden, targeting a refugee shelter, a shelter for asylum seekers, and a café, for which they were convicted in Sweden. The Swedish prosecutor credited RIM for their terrorist radicalisation and relevant training. RIM has also provided paramilitary-style training to white supremacists from Germany, Poland, and Finland.

RIM’s racism and its anti-Semitic ideology are well documented. Though not officially promoted or funded by Russian authorities, RIM has been tolerated by the Kremlin for its role in recruiting, training and sending volunteers to the Donbas war. Russian former intelligence officer Igor Girkin [a.k.a. Igor Strelkov], indicted for his responsibility in the downing of the MH17 flight in Ukraine, expressed solidarity with RIM over the designation as a terrorist organisation. Members of RIM’s paramilitary wing, the Imperial Legion, also fought in support of Russian interests in Ukraine, Syria and Libya.

This is part of a recurrent pro-Kremlin narrative to portray Russia as a victim of US aggression against its sovereignty, which Moscow uses to justify its illicit activities on grounds of “defence” and self-preservation. You can see other examples in the EUvsDisinfo database, such as claims about NATO military exercises as acts of war against Russia; alleged plans to encircle Russia or to wage war against it; the supposed anti-Russian bias of international institutions - be it the OPCW, the World Anti-Doping Agency or the United Nations - which always falsely accuse Russia; the alleged Russophobia of the EU; the affirmation that it is NATO and not the Kremlin who is involved in the Donbas conflict; or denials that Russia had any role in the poisoning of Sergey Skripal or the downing of MH17, that it interfered in other countries’ elections or that it is waging a disinformation campaign on COVID-19.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 193
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 09/04/2020
  • Language/target audience: Spanish, Castilian
  • Country: Russia, US
  • Keywords: Anti-Russian, Terrorism, Nazi/Fascist

Disclaimer

Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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